Inspired Design: IDOM’s Telescope Structure Delights Reviewers

The company that has been developing MSE’s telescope structure is IDOM. IDOM designed many amazing structures including metros, large scientific facilities, stadia, as well as sustainable cities designed for a minimal carbon footprint. IDOM’s creations pair stunning architecture with unique solutions to solve challenging engineering problems, all done within a working culture guided by deep respect and care for the environment.

Ship in Bottle Image
Alexis Hill, MSE Deputy Project Engineer, likens IDOM's challenge - fitting an 11m telescope structure inside a building made for a 3.6 meter telescope while ensuring that telescope is balanced and moves with unrivaled precision and control - to "building a ship in a bottle".

On March 16 and 17, engineers and scientists from Hawaii, Canada, France, Germany, and Spain got together in Bilbao, Spain to review IDOM’s conceptual design of MSE’s telescope structure. The goal of the review was to assess this initial design for performance, cost and risk. The expert panel looked for any showstoppers to the science objectives for MSE: to understand the properties of planet-hosting stars, to learn how our galaxy formed, make portraits of dark matter halos to unveil the nature of this mysterious substance that shapes the universe today, and to learn how supermassive black holes grow and transform their host galaxies. There were two essential questions addressed in the review:

  • Will the telescope perform well enough to make the measurements needed to answer the science questions?
  • Can it be built in the space allowed?
IDOM MSE Model Image
IDOM's work impressed the reviewers, both because of their detailed analysis of every aspect of the design, as well as thorough explanations to questions, including a physical model of the telescope.

IDOM’s design provides a mechanical framework supporting MSE’s wide field 11.25m aperture optics with exquisite precision while tracking the night sky, and coupling that to a bank of spectrographs capable of measuring more than 3000 objects at the same time. A particularly interesting aspect of the design challenge involves fitting this impressive framework into CFHT’s existing building - one that was built to hold the current 3.6m telescope!

IDOM met this challenge, very well. Kei Szeto, the Chair of the review panel said IDOM passed the review with flying colors.

Gaizka Murga, project manager at IDOM remarked on the collaboration with the MSE project office: "It has been a great pleasure for IDOM to collaborate with MSE Team in the preparation of the MSE Mount concept design. We have enjoyed very much the exercise of understanding the project needs and going to the basics to select the most suitable approach for the challenges of MSE. We are looking forward to moving forward to the next development phases of this unique project".

In the immediate future IDOM will work closely with the MSE project office to find a way to increase the clearance between telescope and the surrounding dome. Several ideas are being explored which may provide relief while keeping the size of the observatory on Maunakea as close as possible to the current one.

IDOM MSE Model From Video Image
Click here or the above image for a short video of IDOM’s design for MSE

The MSE telescope, a ship-in-bottle technical wonder, will allow humanity to voyage through space and time through explorations of questions we share like: what are those bright dots in the night-sky, how were they formed and how will they evolve?