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By Hypertelescope LISE
€9,141 pledged of $77,426 goal
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About

Pour une version en français, voir plus bas.

We are proposing to enter into the second stage of the development of a prototype giant Hypertelescope for astronomical research. This is truly a revolutionary, “next-generation” idea in astronomical telescope design. It was conceived and developed by a small group of the world’s leading experts in advanced astronomical optics, optical physics, optical engineering and computer control systems. Nothing of its kind has ever been attempted before.

This new design replaces the extremely massive, expensive, technologically-limited and environmentally unfriendly design of the next generation of giant conventional astronomical telescopes (and their associated infrastructure) with a sophisticated design that has the same light-gathering power of a very large conventional telescope but 10 times greater spatial resolution (fine image detail)… at a tiny fraction of the cost. It does this by spacing out an array of small focusing mirrors over a large area and positioning them so that they all are part of a single, giant, “virtual” mirror surface.

What we are now building at the vallon de la Moutière site is a full-scale, fully operational and scientifically useful prototype of the Hypertelescope concept.

Who are we?

The leaders of the Hypertelescope proposal team are Prof. Antoine Labeyrie and Dr. Denis Mourard.

Antoine Labeyrie, Professor Emeritus at the Collège de France, inventor of the Hypertelescope
Antoine Labeyrie, Professor Emeritus at the Collège de France, inventor of the Hypertelescope

Prof Labeyrie participated in NASA’s development the Hubble Space Telescope, as a member of its Instrument Definition Team. He also proposed Laser Trapped Mirrors for a large space Hypertelescope. He is a member of the Académie des Sciences and was awarded numerous prizes, including the Tinsley Prize from the American Astronomical Society.

Denis Mourard, astronomer at the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur
Denis Mourard, astronomer at the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur

Denis Mourard specialized in long baseline interferometry. He built the VEGA instrument on the large CHARA interferometer at Mount Wilson, California. The VEGA system is remotely controlled and operated by his science team at the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur.

The prototype Hypertelescope project team presently comprises 24 people: scientists trained in astronomy and physics, teachers, engineers, amateur astronomers, students, and other benevolent persons.

These people share their passion for the project, and contribute their time and expertise under the direction of Antoine Labeyrie and Denis Mourard. New volunteers and contributors are welcomed!

The Hypertelescope was pioneered by Prof. Antoine Labeyrie and his collaborators. They have studied this idea for two decades, and have presented their concepts and results at professional scientific meetings, and published their work in leading scientific journals.

What is the Hypertelescope?

Antoine Labeyrie, now Professor emeritus at the Collège de France, pioneered interferometry in astronomy and its extension toward the Hypertelescope. He conceived and started prototyping, with his teams, the first full-scale giant Hypertelescope, in the French Southern Alps.

The principle of the Hypertelescope is simple. Instead of a large mirror, we put in place many small mirrors, 15 centimeters in size, spaced meters apart and accurately positioned on fixed tripods on the ground of a valley to match a virtual giant mirror.

Star light focused by the mirrors 100 meters above is recorded by a camera, suspended from a cable. With the 200-meter diameter area we will utilize at the vallon de la Moutière site, the prototype Hypertelescope is expected to outperform Hubble and the E-ELT. Once it is equipped with adaptive optics, it will exceed their capability of observing distant galaxies.

This dilute mirror focuses light from the observed star on to a camera attached to a cable 100 meters above. The oblique cables, driven by a computer, move the gondola for tracking the star image.
This dilute mirror focuses light from the observed star on to a camera attached to a cable 100 meters above. The oblique cables, driven by a computer, move the gondola for tracking the star image.

 

Basic components of the Hypertelescope
Basic components of the Hypertelescope

Its advantages

In principle, since the size of the mirror array is limited only by the width of the valley where it is installed, a much larger mirror can be achieved in dilute form, with a larger collecting area and at a lower cost than a conventional telescope.

Looking for extraterrestrial life

In the future, the teams forecast the construction of an "Extremely Large Hypertelescope", about one kilometer in diameter, to be installed in the crater of an extinct volcano, or in some high valley of the Andes or the Himalayas.

Simulated image of an Earth-like exoplanet as seen by a next-generation Hypertelescope in space
Simulated image of an Earth-like exoplanet as seen by a next-generation Hypertelescope in space

The Hypertelescope we will build is the precursor and technology demonstrator for a much larger version of the Hypertelescope that would someday be deployed in space. A 100 kilometer “constellation” of small mirrors, for example, would reveal sufficient detail on the surface of an exoplanet (at a distance of 10 light-years from Earth) to search for photosynthetic life through seasonal change of colors.

Advantages of a Hypertelescope

The ability of a telescope to resolve fine image detail, and its ability to observe faint objects, both increase as the diameter of the main mirror. That’s why astronomers are always pushing the development of larger and larger telescopes. But giant optical telescopes come with big challenges and complications.

A very large mirror for telescope requires a huge steerable mount infrastructure, and the cost of those is very, very high. For example, the cost of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, with the four largest one-piece mirrors ever made, which are 8.2 meters in diameter, was around 500 million Euros. The cost of the new very large telescope planned by ESO, the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) with a segmented mirror of 39 meters in diameter, is estimated at 1.2 billion Euros.

In comparison, the prototype hypertelescope we propose to build will have a diameter of 200-meters (5 times larger than the E-ELT), with 5 times the ability to resolve fine image detail, but would cost 1000 times less. A final, fully developed hypertelescope could be built for 10% the cost of the E-ELT. A conventional single-mirror “super”- telescope of 200 meters diameter may never be buildable on the surface of the Earth, or anywhere else. But a hypertelescope of 1000-meters in diameter is being studied, and seems quite feasible even by today’s technological standards.

The materials and techniques necessary to build such giant telescopes are close to the achievable limits. Their size and complexity involve costs for design, fabrication and operation, too high to be financed even by large countries.

We are building an instrument, the Hypertelescope, which will exceed these limitations.

One of the first test mirrors of the Hypertelescope, mounted on a simple, inexpensive tripod.
One of the first test mirrors of the Hypertelescope, mounted on a simple, inexpensive tripod.

 

Two initial hypertelescope mirrors on their tripods.  Can you find them?  This illustrates the very low impact that a hypertelescope would have on a natural site, compared to a large conventional telescope.
Two initial hypertelescope mirrors on their tripods. Can you find them? This illustrates the very low impact that a hypertelescope would have on a natural site, compared to a large conventional telescope.

The dispersed structure of the Hypertelescope makes deployment feasible with minimal environmental disturbance. The Hypertelescope observations can begin with a few mirrors before increasing progressively their number. Thus it can provide valuable scientific results during the period of implementation before its final completion.

Experiment setting. Mirrors on their tripods and laser tracking viewfinders
Experiment setting. Mirrors on their tripods and laser tracking viewfinders

 

The present prototype gondola and its cables, now operational 100 meters high
The present prototype gondola and its cables, now operational 100 meters high

Our scientific targets for 2016

The actual gondola is suspended from a cable and driven by actuated winches, similar to the ski-lift gondola at a major mountain ski resort.

This year we will fully automate its computer-controlled operation and tracking of the gondola camera module.

We build a drone, able in the future to replace the carrying cable, in order to improve the performance of observation.

From conception to crowdfunding

The development of the Hypertelescope was supported from start by the Collège de France, in association with the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur (OCA). Due to Professor Labeyrie's retirement in 2014, the funding was discontinued.

The non-profit association Hypertelescope LISE was then created to further support the project, together with the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur which contributes staff members and logistics. It also benefits from the support of LOMA (Laboratoire Ondes et Matière d'Aquitaine) and IOGS (Institut d'Optique Graduate School).

In order to help funding the 2016 scientific campaign, we expect to further expand the contributors community through Kickstarter.

With 70 000€ we will meet our goals.

With 100 000€, we will continue the research and applied works concerning the drone.

If we reach 150 000€ or more, we could purchase automated instruments facilitating the driving and tracking of the gondola. We will also install more mirrors on the ground, improving the luminosity of the obtained image, as well as its included information.

See all information on : hypertelescope.org

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VERSION EN FRANCAIS

Un télescope est un tube orientable au fond duquel se trouve un miroir qui collecte et focalise la lumière des astres. Plus le miroir est grand, plus l'image est nette et lumineuse permettant de mieux voir les détails des étoiles, des galaxies, des nébuleuses, etc.

Le problème est qu’un très grand miroir de télescope nécessite une infrastructure très lourde et que l’ensemble coûte très cher. Les quatre plus grands miroirs monolithiques équipant le VLT (Very Large Telescope) au Chili mesurent 8,2 mètres de diamètre. Le projet européen de construire un nouveau télescope appelé E-ELT (European – Extremely Large Telescope) avec un miroir segmenté de 39 mètres de diamètre est estimé à 1,2 milliards d’euros.

Les matériaux et les techniques qui permettent la production de tels colosses atteignent leurs limites. Leur taille et leur complexité rendent leurs coûts d'étude, de production et de fonctionnement difficiles à supporter même à l'échelle des continents.

Nous construisons un instrument qui bouscule ces limitations, l’Hypertélescope !

L’Hypertélescope ?

Le professeur Antoine Labeyrie aujourd'hui professeur émérite du Collège de France est un pionnier de l’interférométrie en astronomie. Il a imaginé un nouveau concept de télescope appelé l’Hypertélescope. Avec son équipe il en a étudié la faisabilité et commencé à construire un prototype dans une haute vallée des Alpes du Sud.

Le principe de l’Hypertélescope est simple. Au lieu d’avoir un grand miroir, nous mettons en place de nombreux petits miroirs de 15 centimètres largement espacés, posés sur des tripodes de façon très précise au sol dans la cuvette d’un vallon et qui forment ensemble un miroir géant virtuel.

Une nacelle à 100 mètres au-dessus du vallon, avec un dispositif optique innovant collecte la lumière des étoiles réfléchie par les miroirs au sol.

Ce miroir dilué focalise la lumière de l'étoile observée sur une caméra suspendue à un câble à 100 mètres de hauteur. Les câbles obliques, pilotés par un ordinateur, déplacent la nacelle pour suivre l'image stellaire
Ce miroir dilué focalise la lumière de l'étoile observée sur une caméra suspendue à un câble à 100 mètres de hauteur. Les câbles obliques, pilotés par un ordinateur, déplacent la nacelle pour suivre l'image stellaire

Ses intérêts

Une bien plus grande surface de miroirs collecteurs peut ainsi être obtenue avec comme seule limite la vallée dans laquelle on l'installe et pour un coût considérablement moindre que celui d’un télescope classique.

Un des premiers miroirs tests de l'Hypertélescope
Un des premiers miroirs tests de l'Hypertélescope

Par son infrastructure fractionnée légère et discrète, l’Hypertélescope s'intègre facilement sans perturber la Nature.

Deux premiers miroirs sur leur tripode
Deux premiers miroirs sur leur tripode

L'Hypertélescope peut fonctionner avec peu de miroirs au départ et monter en puissance progressivement. Il présente donc l’avantage de pouvoir produire des résultats scientifiques avant l’achèvement complet de l’installation.

L'Hypertélescope au vallon de la Moutière
L'Hypertélescope au vallon de la Moutière

 

Dispositif expérimental. Miroirs sur leur tripode et viseurs d'alignement laser
Dispositif expérimental. Miroirs sur leur tripode et viseurs d'alignement laser

Nos objectifs techniques pour 2016

Aujourd’hui notre nacelle est suspendue à un câble et manœuvrée par des moteurs à la manière d’une marionnette à fils géante.

La nacelle suspendue par ses câbles à 100 mètres de hauteur
La nacelle suspendue par ses câbles à 100 mètres de hauteur


Cette année nous automatisons complètement son pilotage et son suivi par ordinateur.

Nous construisons un drone qui permettra à terme de remplacer le câble porteur pour améliorer les performances d’observation.

A la recherche de vie extraterrestre

A l’avenir les équipes prévoient d’installer un Hypertélescope Extra-Large d'un diamètre de l'ordre de 1 kilomètre dans le cratère d'un volcan éteint ou dans certaines hautes vallées des Andes ou de l'Himalaya. Cela permettra de dépasser les performances de Hubble et même de l’E-ELT.

Simulation de la vue d'une exoplanète par l'Hypertélescope
Simulation de la vue d'une exoplanète par l'Hypertélescope

L'Hypertélescope que nous construisons est aussi considéré comme précurseur de versions beaucoup plus grandes dans l'espace. Une flottille étendue sur 100 kilomètres pourra voir des détails suffisamment précis à la surface d'une exoplanète, située à 10 années-lumière de la nôtre, pour découvrir la présence de vie photosynthétique par des changements de couleurs saisonniers.

Du projet au financement participatif

Le projet de l'Hypertélescope était porté depuis son origine par le Collège de France en association avec l'Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur (OCA). Depuis 2014, le professeur Labeyrie a dû prendre sa retraite. Le Collège de France s'est alors vu dans l'obligation de cesser ses financements.

L'association Hypertélescope LISE, créée à cette occasion, soutient désormais le projet avec l'aide de l'Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur et lui offre un second souffle logistique et humain. Elle bénéficie également de la contribution du LOMA (Laboratoire Ondes et Matière d'Aquitaine) et de l'IOGS (Institut d'Optique Graduate School).

Pour nous aider à financer la campagne scientifique 2016, c'est tout naturellement que nous faisons appel à la communauté des contributeurs de Kickstarter.

Avec 70 000€ nous pourrons réaliser ces objectifs.

Avec 100 000€ nous pourrons poursuivre la recherche et les travaux appliqués concernant le drone.

Si nous obtenons 150 000€ et plus, nous pourrons acquérir des instruments automatiques qui faciliteront le pilotage de la nacelle. Nous pourrons aussi augmenter le nombre de miroirs au sol et améliorer ainsi la luminosité de l'image et son contenu d'information.

Qui sommes-nous?

L'équipe actuelle est composée de 24 personnes, des scientifiques, enseignants, chercheurs, ingénieurs, astronomes amateurs, étudiants... réunis sous la direction d’Antoine Labeyrie et Denis Mourard. Ils œuvrent bénévolement ensemble au développement du projet.

Antoine Labeyrie, professeur émérite au Collège de France, Inventeur de l'Hypertélescope

 Il a aussi participé avec la NASA à la conception du télescope Hubble comme membre de l’Instrument Definition Team.

Il a également proposé une version en flotille pour un grand Hypertélescope spatial. Il est membre de l'Académie des Sciences et a reçu de nombreuses distinctions comme le « Tinsley Prize » de l’American Astronomical Society.

Denis Mourard, Astronome à l'Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur

Il est spécialiste d'interférométrie à grande base. Il a également développé l'instrument VEGA qui équipe le grand interféromètre CHARA au Mont Wilson en Californie. Ce système est aujourd'hui contrôlé à distance depuis l'Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur grâce à son équipe.


Toutes les infos sur : hypertelescope.org

Risks and challenges

Like for any scientific project, we progress step by step, each step leading us to new challenges and the search of solutions.

Year after year, each campaign in the Alps allows us to gather experience, to define new limits to exceed, and to make progress to reach the state of a fully operating prototype.

Toward demonstrating the feasibility of a large Hypertelescope, our work will persuade scientific organizations to join efforts for developing this new perspective for astronomy.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

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    Pledge €1 or more About $1.14

    Your name will be shouted to the stars by a member of the team on a clear night in the Valley of the Moutiere
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    Votre nom sera crié aux étoiles par un membre de l'équipe lors d'une nuit bien claire au Vallon de la Moutière

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    With your permission, we will publish your name in a page dedicated to thanks to the generous contributors to the 2016 website campaign official hypertelescope.org... plus the previous counterparts!
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    With your permission, we will post your name for the duration of the campaign 2016 on the board at the entrance of the experimental science site of the Vallon de La Moutiere.. plus the previous counterparts!
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    From €30 and more, you will become a member of the HYPERTELESCOPE-LISE non-profit organisation so you can follow closely the future progress of the project... plus previous counterparts!
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    A partir de 30€ et plus, vous serez membre de l'association à but non lucratif HYPERTELESCOPE-LISE et pourrez suivre de près les futures avancées du projet... plus les contreparties précédentes !

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    You will receive a tee-shirt with the logo of the Hypertelescope project... plus previous counterparts!
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    You will receive a cap with the logo of the Hypertelescope project... plus the previous counterparts!
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    You will receive a shirt with the logo of the Hypertelescope project... plus the previous counterparts!
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    Vous recevrez une chemise au logo du projet de l'Hypertélescope... plus les contreparties précédentes !

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    Pledge €525 or more About $598

    You will receive a polar sweater with the logo of the Hypertelescope project... plus the previous counterparts!
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    You will receive a cover for laptop with the logo of the hypertelescope project... plus the previous counterparts!
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    Pledge €2,050 or more About $2,336

    You will receive a mirror symbolizing the Hypertelescope type "Carlina", etched to the logo in diameter around 15cm... plus the previous counterparts!
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    Vous recevrez un miroir symbolisant l'Hypertélescope de type "Carlina" et gravé au logo d'un diamètre de 15cm environ... plus les contreparties précédentes !

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    You will be welcome to visit the Hypertelescope in the Valley of La Moutiere and have a guided tour with the team, and Professor Antoine Labeyrie... plus the previous counterparts!
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Funding period

- (50 days)