The Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) dome houses and protects the telescope from the natural environment. When observing, the dome will follow the telescope movement and shield the telescope from wind and stray light. When not observing, the dome shutter and ventilation doors will be closed to protect the telescope from high winds, dust, and precipitation. During the day, the dome will be closed to insulate the telescope and observing space. During observing, the telescope shutter and ventilation doors will be open to allow maximum flushing of air through the facility.
The DCT dome, designed by M3 Engineering and Technology Corp. in Tucson, AZ and constructed by BEC Southwest, Inc. out of Flagstaff, AZ, is based on the existing domes of the WIYN Telescope at Kitt Peak, AZ, and the Magellan Telescope in Las Campanas, Chile. The DCT dome consists of an octagonal-shaped steel structural frame with a shell of composite metal and insulation panels. The dome has a circumferential row of ventilation doors, and a shutter sized to allow for observing. The two-piece shutter opens barn-door style, to the sides. To help service the telescope and other observatory equipment, overhead cranes is incorporated into the dome structure.
A steel ring beam at the base of the dome rides on 16 roller assemblies, which comprise the azimuth bearing, while rotation will be controlled by a set of friction drives. The shutters are held and guided by tracks fixed to the steel framework, and will be actuated by rack-and-pinion style drive systems. Both the dome rotation and shutter opening will be computer controlled to track the telescope movements during observing. Position feedback will be obtained by a combination of high-resolution incremental encoders and low-resolution absolute encoders.
FIRST LIGHT INSTRUMENTS