Schwarzschild-Couder Telescope Prototype Primary Mirror Installation Complete

The prototype Schwarzschild-Couder Telescope (pSCT), under construction at the Whipple Observatory in Arizona, completed its primary mirror installation on 26 April 2018 (watch the construction on the live webcam). The primary mirror consists of 48 mirror panel modules each including ~1m2 aspheric mirror integrated with six actuators and four/five edge sensors for mirror positioning and alignment in the optical system of the telescope.


“This event is very important milestone for the project, which pushes imaging atmospheric Cherenkov technology to the performance limit in the context of its future implementation in CTA,” explains Vladimir Vassiliev, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California Los Angeles and the lead scientist for the pSCT project.


Now that the primary mirror is fully installed and its alignment system is being commissioned, the installation of the prototype SCT camera will begin in May and is expected to last through the middle of June. The installation of the secondary mirror, consisting of 24 mirror panel modules, is scheduled to begin in June and should be completed in early August. If all goes as planned, commissioning will begin in autumn 2018 when all the optical surfaces will be opened (the white film covering them during construction will be removed).


The SCT is a dual-mirrored version of the Medium-Sized Telescope (MST) that is proposed to cover the middle of CTA’s energy range (80 GeV-50 TeV). The SCT’s innovative two-mirror technology and the advanced high resolution camera is intended to capture the Cherenkov air showers at unprecedented imaging quality to significantly improve gamma-ray angular resolution of MST array in CTA and increase its sensitivity. In collaboration with the SST-2M and MST groups and institutes in Germany, Italy, Japan and Mexico, institutes in the United States have been the pioneers of the SCT design since 2006. Read more about the SCT.