MROI -Magadalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer
Site: New Mexico, Magdalena Mountains, Cibola National Forest, Socorro County USA
State: Under Construction
Detail Design, Manufacturing, Pre-Assembly in Europe, Packing &Transport, Erection on Site, Commissioning and Testing of 10 Enclosures
Client: New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT)
Credits: New Mexico Tec/EIE GROUP
The Magdalena Ridge Observatory (MRO) is a multi-use research and educational astronomical observatory located in the Socorro County, in the Magdalena Mountains of the Cibola National Forest and it is an international scientific collaboration between the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech – NMT) and the Cavendish Astrophysics Group of the University of Cambridge.
The MRO consists of two major facilities: an operational 2.4-meter fast-tracking telescope (2.4-meter telescope) and the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer (MROI), a ten-element optical/infrared interferometer, which is now under construction.
When the MROI is completed, it will have ten 1.4 m (55 in) telescopes located on three 340 m arms. Each arm will have nine stations where the telescopes can be positioned, and one telescope can be positioned at the center. The telescopes and their enclosures will be moved with a customized crane.
EIE commitment in the MROI Project and the main features of the UTEs:
EIE commitment in the MROI project dates back to 2008, when EIE was asked to perform a Detailed Design of the second major facility composing the MRO, which is a ten-element optical/infrared interferometer (MROI). The MRO Interferometer will have an optical array of ten relocatable 1.4 m telescopes arranged in a “Y” configuration. Each of these telescopes will be housed inside a Unit Telescope Enclosure (UTE) which can be lifted and moved onto any of the planned 28 stations, by means of a dedicated relocation system.
The lower part of the UTE will be a rectangular-shaped steel structure, strong enough to support the weight of the telescope mount during relocation. The external covering will be made of weather-tight and thermal insulating sandwich panels.
Both the Dome (upper rotating part) and the Shutter will be self-supporting composite structures (GFRP for the first one, CFRP for the second one). These materials will guarantees adequate thermal and environmental protection, compactness, structural stability and limited power consumption, due to the reduced mass, marking out the MROI UTEs from other more conventional enclosures.
The Shutter and the Dome will be independent mechanisms. During observation the Shutter flips over the Dome so to expose the observing aperture and their combined motion allows to cover the complete telescope observing range. This solution will dramatically simplify the Dome System which, deprived of all the auxiliary systems and mechanisms, becomes a simple rotating cover.
The science with MROI:
The mission of the observatory is to support:
• Astronomy: Star and planet formation, stellar accretion and mass loss, active galactic nuclei
• Optical and near-infrared Radiation
• space situational awareness, including imaging of the Geosynchronous Satellites (GEOS), both commercial and military
The MROI array will simulate a single dish telescope operating at wavelengths between 0.6 and 2.5 microns with a baseline that can range in size from 7.8 to 340 meters in diameter. The MROI, will be ultimately composed of ten 1.4-meter telescopes, optically linked together in order to make images of astronomical objects with unprecedented detail. With this interferometric technology, MROI will be able to resolve objects with 100 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope and will be able to make accurate images of complex astronomical objects many times faster than other existing interferometric arrays.
See MRO web page: