The European Southern Observatory

In the northen part of the Atacama Desert in Chile, several spectacular and famous astronomy observatories are facilitated and operated by the Euroepan Southern Observatory. As described at, The Paranal Observartory is the flagship facility for European ground-based astronomy. With a staggering observing time of 340 nights per year, it is the world’s most advanced optical observatory instrument.

At an altitude of 2.635 metres, The Paranal Observatory consists of four unit telescopes with main mirrors of 8.2m diameter and four mobile 1.8m diameter auxiliary telescopes.

Service sputtering at the Paranal Observatory

As a part of the ongoing service and maintenance programme of the facilities, the telescopes require a re-coating of the reflective aluminium layer at regular intervals.

The re-coating process is conducted with an on-site sputtering system with capability to handle and process the mirrors with diameters up to 8.2 meter, and a weight up to 20 ton. The sputtering system was originally manufactured and supplied by a German industrial group in 1995-1996. As a part of the service and maintenance of the sputtering system during 2013, Polyteknik has been involved as an on-site operating service supplier.

The assessment of the service work was influenced by major topics, including:

  • Leak detection of vacuum vessel (122 m3)
  • Leak detection of 4 meter magnetron and sgields
  • Overhaul of 4 meter magnetron
  • Power supply reading
  • Reading and replacement of cryo pumps
  • Process assessment and verification