Munich, January 2024 - MACCON has signed a contract with OHB Digital Connect, a subsidiary of the aerospace corporation OHB SE, and has thus been commissioned to supply the main axis drives for the "Giant Magellan Telescope" (GMT). The telescope, currently under construction in Chile, is considered the world's most powerful optical telescope.
The alignment of the telescope, tracking of celestial bodies, and correction of disturbances (such as those caused by wind) are achieved through two main axes (azimuth and elevation). The electric main drives for both axes have been developed by MACCON over the past three years.
Both drive axes are designed as direct drives without gears. Depending on the axis, peak torques of up to 400,000 Nm can be achieved. The core of the electromagnetic drive concept is a permanent magnet synchronous motor consisting of 8 (azimuth) or 4 (elevation) stator segments. The rotor diameter per axis is around 20 meters. The topology of a flatbed linear motor was chosen as the basis for both drive units (azimuth and elevation). Unlike conventional linear motors, however, several linear stator segments run on a horizontally (azimuth) or vertically (elevation) curved rotor track. The design of the stator segments as an air-gap winding promises almost perfect synchronicity, without which the high optical resolution of the telescope would not be achievable.
All stator segments are synchronized via a precisely tuned control system. The drives are powered by a Kollmorgen S700 servo amplifier per stator segment. These are operated in a direct phase current control via the higher-level control level. This allows torque to be controlled not only by the magnitude but also by the shape of the current signal. Communication via EtherCAT ensures a safety standard up to SIL3.
The GMT is expected to see its first light in 2029 at the Las Campanas Observatory in the highlands (in the Atacama Desert) of Chile.