National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Why does NAOJ have a Machine Shop?


ATC ME Shop - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

This picture is a panorama of the Mechanical Engineering Shop in NAOJ Mitaka Campus.

The reason why this kind of shop is necessary is because instruments to observe heavenly bodies can’t be bought normally. To conduct leading edge observations and research, we must build the instruments ourselves. When you hear the word “observatory” you probably imagine people observing space and formulating theories about the Universe. But here, every day we help to advance astronomy by machining metal.

About the Advanced Technology Center Mechanical Engineering Shop

Here, we’d like to introduce the Advanced Technology Center Mechanical Engineering Shop (ME Shop), which manages the workshop shown in the picture.

The ME Shop comes up with plans, based on requests from the latest research projects. Then to overcome technical challenges and guarantee performance, we consistently produce test pieces and conduct evaluations in-house. In addition by using machines known as ultra-precision machine tools, which have very high precision, we aim for nanometer (1 millionth of 1 millimeter) level precision when producing pieces like lenses and mirrors.

Our recent successes include the design and production of major components for observational instruments installed in ALMA or the Subaru Telescope. At this time, we primarily support the development of instruments to be installed on the next generation extremely large telescope TMT or the Large-scale Cryogenic Gravitational Wave Telescope KAGRA.

In this way, the ME Shop contributed greatly to the advancement of Japanese astronomy through the development and production of NAOJ’s observational instruments.

Translation by: Ramsey Lundock (NAOJ)

Image Data

DateJuly 2016
CreditNational Astronomical Observatory of Japan

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