Physik Instrumente (PI), Auburn, Mass., will provide 25 six-axis hexapod alignment systems and motion controllers to Vertex Antenna Systems, a daughter of General Dynamics C4 Systems. The custom high-precision micro-positioning systems will be used to align the secondary reflectors in 25 twelve-meter telescopes in the North American portion of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array Project (ALMA) radio telescope.
ALMA is an international joint effort to build the world's most sensitive radio telescope in Chile's Atacama Desert — 16,500 ft above sea level. Eventually, up to 64 antennas will work together as one giant virtual telescope and provide a spatial resolution 10 times higher than the Hubble Space Telescope.
In the last two decades, PI systems have been used in astronomical telescopes in Hawaii, Chile, South Africa, and the Canary Islands.