Synergy Single Board Computers Control World’s Most Powerful Telescope

5/23/2003 - Synergy Microsystems, Inc. (Synergy) announced that engineers at the University of Arizona Steward Observatory have selected its single-board computers (SBCs) to control the primary optics support system of what will soon be the world’s most powerful telescope ­ the "Large Binocular Telescope (LBT)" ­ currently under construction in southeastern Arizona.

With two 8.4-meter spin-cast mirrors ­ equivalent to 320-inch mirrors ­ the LBT will have the greatest light-gathering capacity of any astronomical telescope when it becomes fully operational in late 2005. Placed in North America’s last remaining region that combines low-humidity atmospheric conditions with minimal ambient light from nearby metropolitan areas, the LBT will operate in optimal conditions. With secondary adaptive optics that cancel the distorting effects of the earth’s atmosphere, the LBT will outperform even the Hubble Space Telescope, and will be able to see farther into deep space than any previous deep-space telescope ever built.

The 1-meter-thick honeycombed mirrors of the LBT are supported by 160 actuator support points ­ each of which can make a minute correction to its section of the mirror. The project designers chose Synergy "Cougar 10TM" SBC’s to handle the mathematical calculations and communications that control the actuators to maintain precise positioning and stabilization of the mirrors. The project’s parameter’s required the bandwidth, higher performance and reliability of the Cougar boards to handle the complex combinations of mirror controls. One Synergy board will control the 160-actuator set for each of the mirrors.

The international consortium building the LBT includes: three Arizona universities led by the University of Arizona, with 25 percent ownership; the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics, 25 percent ownership; a group of Midwestern and East Coast universities, led by Ohio State University, 12.5 percent; Research Corporation, 12.5 percent; and a group of German scientific institutes, led by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, for the remainder. The LBT is part of the Mt. Graham National Observatory, located on the eastern slope of Mount Graham near Safford, AZ.

About Synergy Microsystems
Synergy Microsystems, Inc. ( specializes in the design, manufacture and integration of single- and multi-processor, single-board computers for VME and CompactPCI systems to meet the needs of demanding real-time applications in military, aerospace, DSP, and industrial/commercial markets. Synergy has a long track record of extracting the highest possible performance from current and emerging SBC technologies, then supporting these technologies through extended product lifecycles. In business since 1985 under the original ownership, the corporation is privately held, with facilities in San Diego, CA. and Tucson, AZ.

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