A Cosmic Collaboration on Mauna Kea

CFHT Observatory
CFHT Observatory

The only way for astronomers to collect data is by gathering the light of the cosmos. To do that on Earth, they need massive ground-based telescopes. The summit of Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano that makes up almost a quarter of Hawaii’s Big Island, has stellar star-gazing conditions, and it is dotted with the twelve Mauna Kea Observatories. Among them is the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), an observatory partially facilitated by the University of Hawaii. And CFHT is looking to make some major upgrades for gazing into the final frontier.

Greg Green is an instrument designer and machinist at CFHT and part of his job is designing and fabricating parts for the telescope. CFHT is in the process of replacing their current 3.5-meter telescope with a 10-meter telescope housing a segmented primary mirror. It’s a mammoth undertaking, requiring the recycling of parts and the creation of new instruments, and Greg knew he would need all the help he could get. It turns out the neighboring CalTech affiliated W.M. Keck Observatory already has segmented mirrors in their twin telescopes. So Greg contacted Keck for a friendly exchange of parts and, with the help of SOLIDWORKS, Keck was able to send over their observatory designs and help out a partner in science.

“Whether it’s other telescopes or our partners that we work with to develop some of these instrumentation packages, it just seems that everyone is using SOLIDWORKS,” said Greg. “It makes sharing this data much easier.” Follow Greg throughout his day at the office—an office that happens to be 13,793 feet off the ground at the top of a volcano—and learn how SOLIDWORKS is helping to create the future of the astronomy so we can see what no man has seen before.

Sara Zuckerman

Sara Zuckerman

Sara Zuckerman is a SOLIDWORKS Education Contractor, Social Media and Marketing. She has a B.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and recently earned a Certificate in Web Development from MassBay Community College. Sara is excited about utilizing this blog to combine her two passions, writing and technology.