Bo Li was born in China and moved to Hawaii at the age of 13. He is currently a senior at the Illinois Institute of Technology, pursuing a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering. In his spare time, Bo enjoys fixing computers, reading books, and hanging out with friends.

Home Island: Hawaii
Institute when accepted: Illinois Institute of Technology

Project Title: Designing a Mechanical Support System for a Telescope Primary Mirror
Project Site: Institute for Astronomy, Maui
Mentor: Jeffrey Kuhn

Project Abstract:

Thousands of scientists observe the night sky to try to better understand the universe. They¬†need small yet high-performance telescopes to collect cutting-edge data at visible wavelengths.¬†The Institute for Astronomy (IfA) proposes to build an optical telescope with a primary¬†mirror 1.85 m in diameter. The objective of this project is to design a mechanical support system¬†for the primary mirror that would prevent mirror deflection greater than 100 nm during normal¬†operation. First, we used GUI-PLOP, a finite element analysis (FEA) software package¬†designed specifically for telescope mirror analysis, to determine the number of support points¬†that could be used. Next, we created a realistic 3D computer model of the mirror and used¬†regular FEA software to simulate the mirror’s deformation while in its horizontal position atop¬†the support points. We iterated this model to determine the best location for each support¬†point that minimizes mirror deformation. Once the support structure design is completed, we¬†will test mirror deflection at a variety of tilt angles from zenith to horizon. Also, to prevent the¬†primary mirror from sliding as it tilts, we will add a “sling” support (a rubber or metal strap¬†around the edge of the mirror) to the model. The final model will be successful if it permits full¬†movement of the primary mirror without exceeding its allowed deformation tolerance. If time¬†permits, we will investigate additional designs that reduce the total number of support points, in¬†order to minimize both construction cost and complexity.