ITT Exelis (NYSE: XLS) has been awarded a two-phase contract for risk reduction and then the multimillion dollar effort of polishing and integrated optical testing of the 3.5m secondary mirror assembly for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). The telescope will be ground-based in Chile and provide scientists with data to address today’s most compelling questions in astrophysics and allow the general public real-time access to the variable night sky.
The contract to Exelis was awarded by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. on behalf of the LSST Project, a public-private partnership including funding from the National Science Foundation, the Charles and Lisa Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences, the Department of Energy and other organizations.
“Our risk reduction work will ensure that scientists receive high-quality images to support their research,” said Gary Matthews, director of Universe Exploration programs at Exelis. “We will verify that the optical metrology plan will provide an accurate and repeatable measurement. In turn, this will confirm that the quality of the secondary mirror during processing and mounting meets LSST specifications.”
The LSST Project was named a top priority in the National Research Council’s Astro2010 report, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics , a decadal survey that ranked it as the top large-scale, ground-based project for the next decade. Once operational, the telescope will survey the entire visible sky every three nights. It will generate 30 terabytes of data per night from a 3 billion-pixel digital camera to produce a database of information on the universe. Taking exposures every 10 seconds to track objects that change or move, the LSST will chart the history of the expansion of the universe.“Our work will contribute to scientific research, education and discovery.” Matthews said. “This is an area where we have significant ongoing capability which we can bring in support of our customer.”