terraXcube simulates the height of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea

A very special test has just taken place in one of terraXcube’s five Small Cubes where the terraXcube team brought a “Real Time Controller” created by the Microgate company to an altitude of 4,000 m in order to test the efficiency of its cooling system. The Bolzano-based company has been developing the computer for what is currently the world’s largest telescope, located in the Keck Observatory on the island of Hawaii. Using tomographic methods, “Real Time Controller” makes 2000 calculations per second to correct the adaptive optics with which the telescope is equipped and compensates for the distortions caused by the atmosphere to deliver sharp images. The terraXcube was used to test the ability of the “Real Time Controller”  cooling system to withstand the altitude of Mauna Kea, Hawaii’s highest volcano. With increasing altitude, air density changes and makes cooling more difficult. The Keck Observatory is operated jointly by the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and the US space agency NASA.

Images: © Eurac Research / Annelie Bortolotti