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Home > News > UK firm designs super sensors for world’s biggest telescope

UK firm designs super sensors for world’s biggest telescope

ELTThe ELT will be fitted with 28 adaptive optics wavefront sensors called large visible sensor modules (LVSM) as part of a closed loop feedback system that will enable the telescope to adapt to millisecond changes in atmospheric conditions.

The LVSM sensors will have the sensitivity to make tiny adjustments around 700 times a second to maintain a sharp, high-resolution image as atmospheric conditions vary.

The ELT optical/near-infrared telescope, which is due to be operational in in 2024, is being constructed at a cost of around one billion euros. At roughly the size of the Colosseum in Rome, it will have a 39 metre diameter main mirror capable of gathering 250 times as much light as the Hubble space telescope.

Dr Paul Jorden, Astronomy Technical Specialist at Teledyne e2v writes:

“The ELT is designed to gather the tiniest scraps of light. This means that atmospheric turbulence can have a major influence on its optical performance. Our LVSM sensors have the high sensitivity, large area and high frame rate to monitor atmospheric fluctuations that take place around one thousand times a second. That data will feed into the telescope’s adaptive optics systems to enable the continuous fine adjustments to ensure the image stays in sharp focus.”


The design of the LVSM sensors for the ELT will be based on Teledyne e2v’s CMOS technology and the sensor design will feature 800 x 800 pixels.

The four year project consists of two phases. In the initial phase, sample sensors will be designed and manufactured to demonstrate proof of concept. Following this, 28 sensors will be manufactured at Teledyne e2v’s Chelmsford site for delivery to ESO who will install some of them on different instruments within the ELT.