The prime focus imaging spectrograph for the Southern African Large Telescope: structural and mechanical design and commissioning

Type Conference Paper
Names Michael P. Smith, Kenneth H. Nordsieck, Eric B. Burgh, Jeffrey W. Percival, T. B. Williams, Darragh O'Donohue, James O'Connor, J. Alan Schier
Conference Name Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) Conference Series
Volume 6269
Pages 72
Date July 1, 2006
Short Title The prime focus imaging spectrograph for the Southern African Large Telescope
Library Catalog NASA ADS
Abstract The Prime Focus Imaging Spectrograph (PFIS) is a first light instrument for the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT). PFIS is a versatile instrument designed to operate in a number of scientific modes by utilizing volume phase holographic gratings, Fabry-Perot etalons, and polarimetric optics, which are manipulated in and out of the beam using various placement mechanisms. The instrument is mounted at the prime focus 15m above the primary mirror and tilted at 37°. This remote placement and the need for 240° of rotation about the optical axis raises important design issues with mass, flexure and access. The instrument structure provides the interface to the telescope Prime Focus Instrument Platform (PFIP) as well as support points for all the optics, mechanisms and electrical equipment. The structure is a welded open truss of hollow, square-section Invar beams. The open truss provides the highest stiffness to weight ratio and minimizes the effect of wind loading, while the use of Invar negates the effects of thermal expansion. It has been designed using finite element analysis in conjunction with an optical tolerance analysis of the optics nodes to minimize effective image motion under the varying gravity load. The fundamentals of the design of the structure to minimize the flexure and its effect on image motion, the motivation for using the open Invar truss structure, and the design of the remotely operated mechanisms are discussed. In 2005 PFIS was installed and commissioned on SALT in South Africa. Included in this text are some of the results and experiences of taking PFIS into operation.
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