Wednesday, April 9, 2014

a starbug sings starwars

one of the major technologies we develop at the AAO is various ways to position hundreds of optical fibres before astronomical observations.

my current favourites are the mini-robot starbugs.   they are stuck to a glass plate by vaccuum and then "crawl" across the glass, which is located inside a telescope's light path.  each starbug moves independently, programmed to stop where the light from a particular galaxy will be aligned.

when a voltage is applied to the inside cylinder shown below, it bends slightly, and lifts the outer cylinder, allowing the whole thing to shuffle along the surface.

Credit: Australian Astronomical Observatory
here is a quick demonstration of many starbugs moving (this is from an older model of the little bugs).

what happened when AAO engineer jamie gilbert decided to get creative with the frequency, and therefore pitch, of the bugs' feet shuffling across the glass?   a geek's delight: star wars!!

1 comment:

Matthew Colless said...

Gotta love that!