Seeing Deep Into Space
Reported December 2011
PASADENA, CA (Ivanhoe Newswire) --Telescopes can capture amazing images! You may have seen some of the Hubble’s works of art, but soon scientists may be able to get those kinds of snapshots with a smaller telescope. We’ll show you how new technology is allowing smaller telescopes to see into space like never before.
They come in small. Medium, and very large! Telescopes are our window into space. But nowadays to get great images you need a massive instrument!
“What’s happening is they are leaving all these small telescopes around the country behind,” Christoph Baranec, Ph.D., an optical scientist at Caltech Optical Observatories told Ivanhoe.
Optical scientist Dr. Christoph Baranec wants to change that. He’s developed a way to make smaller telescopes more useful.
“What I’m trying to do is actually build adaptive optic systems for small telescopes,” Dr. Baranec said.
When you look through a telescope on the ground – the atmosphere interferes with your view. Winds, turbulence, and varying temperatures, can all cause distortions.
“All these effects start to add up, and it starts to really degrade your image and stars start bouncing around,” Dr. Baranec explained.
Baranec’s system, called Robo-AO uses adaptive optics to counteract those effects. First an ultraviolet laser shines into the atmosphere as a reference point. Then, the adaptive optics system and cameras pinpoint the laser and a built-in computer calculates the measurements and tells a small mirror to change its shape so slightly, making corrections for a better, clearer view.
“We can start thinking about putting these very complex machines in a small package on a small telescope,” Dr. Baranec said.
The system is much cheaper than current technologies – 12 watts of UV laser power cost about $100,000 compared to more than a million dollars for traditional large telescope with sodium lasers. And since it’s robotic, it doesn’t require a lot of users to operate, and the images are much clearer – as you can see here.
“That’s what adaptive optics can give you. It can sort of recover what it’s like to see stars from space,” Dr. Baranec concluded.
A new device – and a new way to see the sky.
Dr. Baranec says right now they are testing the technology with telescopes that are in the one to three meter class. He hopes it will one day be installed on all telescopes of that size around the country.
Click here to Go Inside This Science and View Video or contact:
Senior Postdoctoral Scholar in Astronomy
Caltech Optical Observatories
California Institute of Technology
Safe or Slippery? Detecting Dangerous Roads
December 2011 TV Reports
Slip-sliding on dangerous roads comes with the season. Now new laser technology is helping determine which roads are slick and which are safe.
Tracking Traffic—GPS Of The Future
It’s an app that can tell you what time to leave for work, how long it will take to get there and when the next bus will arrive. We’ll show you a personal traffic reporter that’s right at your fingertips.
Pets, People & Practice
Diabetes, Cancer, Leukemia … all very real diseases that not only kill millions of people, but our pets as well. New research is proving the same medicine that can save Fido from deadly diseases can save us too.
Dogs Fighting Cancer
Did you know you could get the same type of cancer as dogs? You can-- and that’s why doctors and veterinarians are working closely to cure this deadly disease in both.
Earthquake! What’s Your Risk?
Could your home withstand a 7.2 quake like the one last month that devastated parts of Turkey? A new computer program can calculate your risk and if insurance would be worth the cost.
Uncovering Mysteries In Space
Scientists have discovered the largest body of water and it’s out of this world—literally! We’ll show you where it is and tell you what it means for all of us.
Deep Space Discoveries
Technology is moving faster than the speed of light! We’ll show you the next telescope that is sure to make the Hubble look like a child’s toy!
A Satellite Named Violet and a Student Named Amanda
It’s been two years in the making but now, a one-of-a-kind student built satellite is ready for launch! But what makes Violet so unique?
Hola! Hello! Ciao! Bonjour! The More Languages the Better!
Juggling two, three even four languages may help build stronger brains.
Finding Lost Sounds
Listen up! Nature’s harmonies are more important than you might think. It’s what you don’t hear anymore that could tell us about what’s happening in our world.
Behind the Scenes with the K-Team
For the first time, we take you inside the Karp Lab. It’s like no other and what happens here could change or save your life.
Spice It Up for a Healthy Heart!
For your next meal, add a little turmeric, oregano or cinnamon. A few more spices could add years to your heart.