Smart focal plane positioners for adaptive optics ELTs

Michael Goodwin*, Prerak Chapagain, Mark Bakovic, David Brown, Vinay Bhangdia, Jon Lawrence

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


The ability to simultaneously position 'large' payloads over the focal surface overcomes some of the potential barriers faced by ELTs in implementing multi-object adaptive optics. The Australian Astronomical Observatory is prototyping a new positioner capable of moving larger payloads than a typical Starbug (fiber positioners proposed for GMT). These devices, called Hoverboards, are currently capable of positioning payloads up to 3 kg over the focal surface. Hoverboards are platforms that utilize air pressure and vacuum forces to reposition with either two or more Starbugs, amplified piezo-actuators or stepper motors. Hoverboards facilitate fast field configuration times with simultaneous positioning and best utilization of the focal-plane with diversified payloads enabling multi-object surveys. Hoverboards could conceptually position compact deformable mirrors over the focal surface for implementing multi-object adaptive optics or as an imager for ground-layer adaptive optics. We report on the development of a low-cost Hoverboards prototype suitable for flat and curved focal-plane surfaces for the GMT and E-ELT.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAO4ELT5 Proceedings
PublisherInstituto de Astrofísica de Canarias
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event5th Adaptive Optics for Extremely Large Telescopes, AO4ELT 2017 - Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain
Duration: 25 Jun 201730 Jun 2017


Conference5th Adaptive Optics for Extremely Large Telescopes, AO4ELT 2017
CityTenerife, Canary Islands


  • AAO
  • Adaptive Optics
  • Deformable mirror
  • E-ELT
  • Focal plane positioner
  • GMT
  • Hoverboards
  • Starbugs

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