An international team of researchers has developed a fully-automated telescope in hopes of identifying Earth-like planets. But, the amazingness doesn’t stop there. This thing can deliver images on par with the Hubble Space Telescope and the technology can be retrofitted to any telescope of a similar size. Imagine a global network of automatic robo-scopes scanning the night sky. I fail to see how that won’t make the world more awesome.
Tracking down Earth-like exoplanets with a terrestrial telescope is no easy feat because our planet’s atmosphere makes distant solar systems even harder to see. Adaptive optic technology can help make things go a little faster, but it does so at a snail’s pace—requiring up to 10 minutes per target. The fully autonomous Robo-AO system, however, lets any telescope lock on to targets in just 60 seconds. Let the hunt for Earth 2.0 begin!
Developed by a team of researchers from around the globe, the Robo-AO is touted as the first fully autonomous adaptive optics and imaging system by its inventors. The million dollar device can be attached to any ground-based 1- to 3-meter class telescope. It not only operates ten times faster than existing adaptive optics systems, but also delivers exceptionally crisp images on par with those captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
“Ultimately we see that this is the kind of system that can end up on every telescope of this size around the planet,” Nicholas Law, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina, told IEEE Spectrum.
The Robo-AO has already been installed on the Palomar Observatory’s 60-inch telescope and completed the single largest adaptive optics survey ever conducted, observing 715 Kepler candidate planets in just one observation season.
Read more at Gizmodo