Starbug: enabling the smart focal plane

Andrew McGrath, Anna Moore

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


We propose a new robotic system for positioning payloads such as pickoff mirrors, fibres or deployable IFUs on telescope focal planes. Based on a combination of concepts used in existing fibre positioning systems, the proposed system retains the advantages of each type of existing positioner, while eliminating many of the disadvantages. It employs micro-robotic actuators to independently and simultaneously position an arbitrary number of small payloads accurately on an arbitrarily large field plate and offers a cost-effective and multiply-redundant design for payload positioning systems suitable for use at Cassegrain or Nasmyth foci of large telescopes. Operation in cryogenic environments, positioning accuracies of a few microns, simultaneous movement of arbitrary numbers of positioners and the removal of many movement constraints are some of the advantages offered. We demonstrate a prototype positioner for the system.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAstronomical Structures and Mechanisms Technology
EditorsJoseph Antebi, Dietrich Lemke
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes
EventSemiconductor Lasers and Laser Dynamics - Strasbourg, France
Duration: 27 Apr 200430 Apr 2004

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


ConferenceSemiconductor Lasers and Laser Dynamics


  • Fibre
  • Instrumentation
  • Multi-object spectroscopy
  • Positioner
  • Robotics


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