Mechanical Group
03 May 2011



Mechanical Group




The mechanical engineering group provides professional skills and relevant experience to projects and collaborations undertaken at the UK ATC. The group has a wealth of experience gained over many years of delivering complete facility class instruments to major astronomical facilities. However the scope of the work can vary between a complete instrument to a small subsystem structure or mechanism.

In general such work includes planning, developing specifications, contract management, design, performance analysis, construction, AIV and commissioning of often complex optomechanical systems. This includes specialised areas of engineering such as high vacuum and cryogenic systems, precise and reliable cryogenic mechanisms and cryogenic mounting of optics. The Group also has extensive experience of designing and specifying Telescope Systems such as structures, mirror support systems etc.

The group utilises state of the art 3D CAD software for design with a data management system which facilitates concurrent design with multiple engineers.

Performance estimates and 'what if' analysis is carried out using a variety of mathematical spreadsheets and a FEA package which is integrated into the CAD package.

AIV is supported by a team of experienced and skilled technicians and an on-site workshop. The workshop has general manufacturing capability with NC turning and milling. Part and subsystem inspection facilities include a CMM.

Instrument labs are available for AIV. Craneage and handling facilities are provided for large assemblies. The labs are equipped with robotic manipulators used for assembly and telescope simulation. Typical instrument services such as vacuum, nitrogen, dry air and compressed helium are provided. Optical alignment tools including alignment telescopes and lasers are used for system level alignment and verification.

Current projects include:

  • VISTA 4m Survey  Telescope
  • ELT Instrument Studies, EAGLE and HARMONI
  • Remote greenhouse gas sensing - GHOST
  • Target Goniometer for DLS
  • Retinal Densitometer
  • Smart Focal Planes

Head of Group

Group domain / skills

  • Instrumentation
  • Telescope Systems
  • Innovative solutions
  • System architecture design (including requirements capture, performance estimation and close liaison with other disciplines esp. optics)
  • Precision mechanisms
  • Structural and thermal analysis
  • Vacuum and cryogenic (to mK) systems and environments
  • AIT skills
  • Component manufacture
  • Metrology
  • Assembly


  • AutoCad Inventor
  • COSMOS DesignStar