Astronomy

The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) named GMT as "the BEST outside contractor working on this project."

The Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) is studying “cool dust” and gas clouds in the Milky Way and other galaxies. For this, they are using an array of radio telescopes, eight of which are located on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea. The high altitude, clear air, and Equatorial location are requirements for this research.

GMT was asked to build the frames for the 6-meter dishes. These quadrupod structures stand twelve feet tall and hold the focusing mirror sensors. This system is called a submillimeter array, whose name gives evidence of the precision required in fabrication.

The summit region of Mauna Kea where the array is located is subjected to extreme environmental conditions. The antennas had to be exceptionally rigid and stable, even when buffeted by mountaintop winds, scoured by volcanic ash, and subjected to wide temperature fluctuations. The assemblies and their enclosures also had to be repositionable in an hour, being picked up and moved over steep unpaved roads.

For GMT’s work, the SAO named GMT as “the BEST outside contractor working on this project.”