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Ordinary Meeting: Starbugs: a New Parallel-Positioning Technology for Multi-Fibre Astronomical Instruments

Friday 10th October 2014 - 8:00pm

Topic:   Starbugs: a New Parallel-Positioning Technology for Multi-Fibre Astronomical Instruments
Speaker:   Dr Kyler Khuen, AAO
Venue: Epping Creative Centre - 26 Stanley Road, Epping
Abstract:  Starbugs comprise a pair of coaxial piezoceramic actuators that can "walk" across a surface when driven with a precisely-varying voltage.  In this manner, they can move several mm per second and position a payload (e.g., an optical fibre for astronomical observation) with micron-level accuracy.  Most importantly, arbitrarily large numbers of Starbugs can be operated in parallel -- this reduces optical fibre configuration times for astronomical instruments from tens of minutes (for serial positioning systems) to tens of seconds, potentially allowing for significant increases in on-sky observing time.
TAIPAN is a multi-object spectroscopic instrument that will undertake a survey of galaxies and stars throughout the southern hemisphere starting in 2016.  It is enabled by the Starbugs technology, which will position 150-300 optical fibres in parallel onto astronomical targets. I will detail the basic operation of the Starbug fibre positioners, as well as the current status and future goals of the TAIPAN instrument.  Looking even farther into the future, I will describe how Starbugs will increase the scientific potential of the 24m Giant Magellan Telescope, slated to begin observations in the first part of the next decade.
Biography: Kyler Kuehn is an Instrument Scientist at the Australian Astronomical Observatory and Project Scientist for the TAIPAN instrument.  He studied Physics (and Classical Civilization) at the University of Southern California, and received his Ph.D. in Particle Astrophysics from the University of California-Irvine in 2007.  Before taking up his current position, he served as a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics at the Ohio State University, as well as a postdoctoral appointee in the High Energy Physics Division of the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory.  In those positions, he helped to build the Dark Energy Camera, a 570-megapixel instrument currently operating on the 4m Blanco Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.
When he is not engaged in astronomical pursuits, Kyler enjoys running marathons and spending time with his wife and 1-year-old daughter.

Event Date: 
Friday, 10 October, 2014 - 20:00
Epping Creative Centre, 26 Stanley Road, Epping NSW

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