Coroangraphic Mask Used for the Detection of Extrasolar Planets
Astronomical instruments are generally designed by a team of people with expertise in optics, optical design, mechanical engineering, electronics, software, control theory and other disciplines. The design process normally involves a lengthy period before a preliminary design is reviewed by the entire group. During this time, scientists simulate what the instrument will do, how well it will perform and what the requirements on the actual design will be. Discussions with people at the observatory also provide constraints on the design: things as simple as whether the instrument will fit through the observatory's door, to the exact specification of the beam that will be fed from the telescope to the instrument.
The team generates a preliminary design, which is then reviewed, usually over a single day's meeting of the entire group, plus some additional scientists and engineers who are asked to be present in a consultory role. The preliminary design review (a.k.a. PDR) usually results in significant changes in the design. Problems are generally found during the PDR. These issues are rectified during a secondary design process, which can take months or even years in some instances. Ultimately a second design review is held, called the critical design review (CDR). At this point essentially every part of the instrument has been identified and vendors that can either build or supply those parts have been identified. If the critical design review reveals significant flaws in the instrument construction plan or design, another period of design revision ensues and another CDR will be scheduled. Upon passing CDR, the instrument construction starts.
The CLSM was used to image parts of the design to ensure they were made properly. To find out more about this project, please visit http://lyot.org/.