Mersen Scopes a Record

Electrical equipment company chosen for largest telescope project

Mersen, the manufacturer of electrical power equipment and advanced materials, has announced that it will be taking part in the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) project run by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), helping to complete the fifth and final mirror for this giant future telescope, which is reportedly the most powerful in the world, according to a March 11 press release.

Mersen had previously been tasked with creating the reference structure for the fourth mirror by the Italian consortium AdOptica. This time, the company in charge of the project, Safran Reosc, chose Mersen for its silicon carbide (SiC) based solution. An overview of the project can be seen in the video below:



The group’s subsidiary, Mersen Boostec, will “manufacture the reduced-weight mirror blank from SiC, matching Safran Reosc’s specifications,”the company said. Silicon carbide is a lightweight, stiff, stable ceramic that is very little sensitive to temperature fluctuations, and is a popular choice for optical instruments due to its high thermo‑elastic stability. Mersen Boostec is considered credible for its silicon carbide expertise, having equipped more than 19 all‑SiC telescopes that are already in orbit.

Headquartered in the Parisian suburb of Courbevoie, Mersen has been contributing to astronomy for the past 20 years, working on prestigious ESA space missions such as Rosetta, Herschel and GAIA, and will soon take part in NASA’s JWST mission. The ELT project is a major ground-based astronomy project for the group.

The ELT is a huge telescope whose primary mirror spans 39 meters (~128 feet) in diameter. Backers of the project say it will allow significant progress to be made in astronomy—specifically in the realms of stellar archeology, exoplanet discovery and categorization.

The ESO is an intergovernmental astronomy organization founded in 1962 by five European countries, in order to provide astronomers with a state-of-the-art, ground-based astronomical observatory in the Southern hemisphere.

Mersen, which has 6,900 employees working across 35 countries, recorded sales of €879 million in 2018. The company’s stable is designing innovative solutions to for specific needs in manufacturing performance. Mersen has clients in sectors such as energy, electronics, transportation, chemicals & pharmaceuticals and process industries. Safran Reosc, meanwhile, is a French manufacturing subsidiary of Safran Electronics and Defense, Safran’s high-tech company, specializing in optic design, production and integration for the astronomy, space, high-powered laser and semiconductor industries in the civil and defense sectors.

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