Eichenberger Ballscrews helping our view of the stars!

 

Progress in astrophysics thanks to ballscrews

(Astro)Physics, the science of measuring, counting and understanding. So what do Swiss ballscrews have to do with it?

Worldwide, there are a total of four large latest-generation Cherenkov telescopes: Australia, Namibia, La Palma and the USA. Around 4000 electrically driven, cold-rolled ballscrews help researchers to observe the cosmos from the Canary Island and to gain more knowledge about mysterious objects and extreme events in the universe. Positioning the telescopes in the northern and southern hemispheres allows for optimal monitoring. Just what exactly do these observations accomplish and how does Eichenberger Gewinde AG play a role in such valuable findings?

 

Its "MAGIC"
 

The two MAGIC telescopes (Major Atmospheric Gamma-Ray Imaging Cherenkov) are the most sensitive and largest Cherenkov telescopes in the world, each with a total mirror area of 17 metres in diameter. This is of special relevance for energy ranges below 200 gigaelectronvolts (GeV). MAGIC focuses on objects emitting gamma rays from 30 GeV up to 100 TeV (teraelectron volts). The telescope duo is located 2400 metres above sea level, where abundant clear skies and negligible light pollution provide ideal conditions for observation. 

On La Palma, the earth's atmosphere is transformed into a gigantic particle detector. Within a few seconds, the MAGIC telescopes can be focused on any point in the universe. The fact that the telescopes can align themselves so quickly with the source of a gamma-ray burst is explained by their powerful drives and comparatively low weight. A total of 947 aluminium mirror segments mounted on support plates form 247 m² of mirror surface. Each of these 50 x 50 cm mirror plates is driven from both sides by a remarkably nimble and hard-wearing Carry 12 x 2 mm ballscrew. Exceedingly precise and incredibly fast, these effective, cold-rolled lead screws align the individual mirrors to a pre-adjusted laser dot. 

Astrophysicists conduct research with huge telescopes. The mirror plates of the telescopes are driven with ballscrews. Supernova remnants, active galactic nuclei, 
black holes and pulsars are now observed regularly.


Astrophysical findings are extremely valuable 


Physics cannot invent things and biology alone does not cure anything. Engineers and medical scientists typically draw on basic research, either conducted in space or from astronomy. Astrophysics addresses the physical principles underlying exploration of celestial phenomena and is a sub-field of astronomy. Various technological developments from these observations have found their way into our everyday lives as well as into scientific fields (medicine, biology, materials research). Countless technical applications are derived from research in the field of radiation including, digital cameras,  satellite technology, telescope technology, nuclear medicine equipment, cancer therapy equipment, ion & neutron beam technology.

 


Nimble ballscrews open the window to the universe. 


 

Ballscrews for performance and functional reliability 

In 2020, the two MAGIC telescopes registered a gamma-ray burst with an intensity that surpassed all previous measurements. But there was more to the observational data: analysis enabled scientists to confirm that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant and does not depend on the energy of the light particles... all theories must be validated or disproven by data. Physics is the science of measuring, counting and understanding. Unless there is a rapid response at such moments, unique opportunities for significant findings are lost.

The two 70-ton instruments can be rotated to any position in less than 20 seconds. To ensure that the mosaic-like telescopes can respond so rapidly with such extraordinary precision, an engineering masterpiece is called for, and the reliability of the mechanical drive elements is absolutely crucial. Regardless of the most adverse weather conditions and extreme temperature differences, the screw drives must be absolutely fail-safe in their performance.

Which is what they do, because Eichenberger Gewinde AG offers exceptional quality. It begins with the development and tailoring of the optimum thread geometry for special applications. Careful material selection and modern manufacturing processes result in robust, high-efficiency, wear-free products that retain their intrinsic value over a long life cycle.

 

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