Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence (HMI) – a Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services Client – is Playing an Important Role in a Project That Will Help Humanity Acquire a Better Understanding of the Universe

Installation of Asturfeito Radio Telescope in Northern Norway (Image credit: Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence)

Willwork, Inc. Exhibit & Event Services is a national leader in exhibition services and event project management.

Our client list includes winning and successful companies across almost all industries. On the list are some of the largest and best-known multinationals … and also small, recently started companies that you may not have heard of … yet …. but you will.

Among our clients are organizations that create and invent, and bring to market, the technology that makes commerce more efficient, more cost-effective, and which improves quality of products and services.

One of those organizations is Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence (HMI) .

It our privilege to service, and to work with, HMI.

Based in North Kingstown, RI, HMI designs and produces solutions that optimize the use of measurement data “to increase production speed and accelerate productivity while enhancing quality” in industrial manufacturing projects around the world.

As explained at the HMI website, “Through a network of local service centers, production facilities and commercial operations across five continents,” HMI is “shaping smart change in manufacturing to build a world where quality drives productivity.”

HMI is a division of the Swedish company Hexagon AB, a “leading global provider of information technology solutions that drive productivity and quality across geospatial and industrial landscapes.”

A major project – a project that benefits all humanity – in which HMI solutions are now being used, is the installation in northern Norway, inside the Arctic Circle, of two large radio telescopes, each 13.5 meters (44.3 feet) in diameter.  On this project, HMI technology is employed to assure that the telescopes are assembled with the highest accuracy and precision.

Overseeing the engineering and assembly of the telescopes is Asturfeito, a company headquartered in Spain.  Asturfeito has been an HMI customer for five years.  Asturfeito provides, organizes, and coordinates services for engineering, manufacturing, and commissioning of capital goods for large industrial projects.

In 2013, Asturfeito and HMI teamed as part of the effort to bring into full operation the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), an astronomical interferometer (an array of radio telescopes that operate and record data in unison) located in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile at an elevation of 5,000 meters (16,000 feet).  The ALMA interferometer, developed and constructed by an international coalition of scientific organizations and private companies, contains 66 radio telescopes. Planned and built at a cost of $1.4 billion, ALMA is the most expensive ground-based telescope in the world.

In the installation of the radio telescopes, Asturfeito is using HMI laser tracker systems.

Radio Telescopes

Radio telescopes.  What are they?  What do they do?

Answers to these questions are found in the article, “What Are Radio Telescopes?”, published on the website of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).  Here are the first two paragraphs of the story:

“Just as optical telescopes collect visible light, bring it to a focus, amplify it and make it available for analysis by various instruments, so do radio telescopes collect weak radio light waves, bring it to a focus, amplify it and make it available for analysis. We use radio telescopes to study naturally occurring radio light from stars, galaxies, black holes, and other astronomical objects. We can also use them to transmit and reflect radio light off of planetary bodies in our solar system. These specially-designed telescopes observe the longest wavelengths of light, ranging from 1 millimeter to over 10 meters long. For comparison, visible light waves are only a few hundred nanometers long, and a nanometer is only 1/10,000th the thickness of a piece of paper! In fact, we don’t usually refer to radio light by its wavelength, but by its frequency.

“Naturally occurring radio waves are extremely weak by the time they reach us from space. A cell phone signal is a billion billion times more powerful than the cosmic waves our telescopes detect.”

Radio telescopes are essential and fundamental instruments and devices to the practice of radio astronomy, which is, and here we refer again to language from the NRAO website:

“Radio astronomy is the study of celestial objects that give off radio waves. With radio astronomy, we study astronomical phenomena that are often invisible or hidden in other portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

“With giant, sophisticated radio telescopes, we watch stars turn on, shine, and expend themselves, and then we spy on their fascinating corpses. We watch planets form from dust and ice. We clock the spin of our Galaxy and thousands of others. We see the echo of the clumpy Big Bang and the Universe’s very first stars and galaxies. And we spot the chemical precursors of DNA, floating in space.”

Radio telescopes collect and track data emitted from machines, space probes and satellites, that people send into the cosmos.

If you click here you will be taken to the area of the NRAO website where is found interesting history and explanation about radio astronomy.

Jansky’s “merry-go-round” radio telescope (Image credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF)

As for those radio waves, which are sort of the precursor to radio astronomy, they were first identified almost 80 years ago by Karl Guthe Jansky (1905-1950), an engineer at Bell Telephone Laboratories, the organizational genesis of what today is NOKIA Bell Labs.  Mr. Jansky had been hired by Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1928, and tasked with locating and identifying static and turbulence that interfered with telephone communications.  To accomplish the mission, Mr. Jansky mounted an antenna on a turntable so that the antenna could be rotated to pick up radio waves coming from all directions.  “Jansky’s merry-go-round”, built on Bell Telephone Laboratories property in Holmdel, NJ, was the first radio telescope.

Using the radio telescope, Mr. Janksy identified all the sources of the radio disruption except for one.  Yet he would discover that source as well.  In 1931, he found that stars were what had been that mystery emitter of radio interference.

Today the name for a unit of radio-wave emission strength is a jansky.

It would be late in 1932, when Karl Guthe Jansky first published his findings on stars and radio waves.  Mr. Jansky launched a discipline and a science that an astronomer and engineer named Grote Reber (1911-2002) would usher along and on which he would build.  Before 1932 was out, Mr. Reber attempted to devise and adapt a shortwave radio to detect radio waves transmitted by the stars. The shortwave radio experiment didn’t work.  What did work though was an antenna he built in his backyard in Wheaton, IL in 1937: bowl-shaped and 9.4 meters (31 feet) in diameter.  This device – bearing a resemblance to the radio telescopes of today – enabled Grote Reber to improve detection of, and learn more about, radio waves, and to develop the first mapping of radiation across the Milky Way, the galaxy we Earthlings call home.

Messrs. Jansky and Reber pioneered a science, what started humanity on the path that led to us the radio astronomy technology of today, what the NRAO calls the “giant, sophisticated radio telescopes” – those like the two being installed in Northern Norway, inside the Arctic Circle.

And why inside the Arctic Circle? There are surely far more accessible and environmentally hospitable places.

Radio telescopes are installed in locations far removed from concentrations of human habitat – such as the Arctic – to avoid electromagnetic interference (EMI)  from manmade electronic devices, such as radio, television, radar, and motor vehicles.

And HMI technology is relied on to keep the radio telescope installation perfectly aligned, precise, and balanced … even when the work being done is in some of the coldest and windiest and miserable conditions on the planet.

Yeah, it can get like that in the Arctic.

Benefits of Astronomy – Whether Radio or Optical

Whether – and this is greatly simplifying the concept – it is visible light data and information that an optical telescope collects, or the radio frequency data and information a radio telescope gathers, both are a trove that astronomers and other scientists analyze and study to help humanity know more about the universe.

A primary, an overarching … and we dare say … cosmic benefit … of astronomy is that it helps humanity consider, even if we cannot ever begin to fully understand, how impossibly minute and tiny is the place, the planet, we call home, as a component of the galaxies and the never-ending outer space.

And, in this way … as well … it instructs us just how special is Earth, and how important it is that we take care of  our home.

How small and how remarkable is Earth, and how small and how remarkable are its residents, is beautifully conveyed in a short film called “The Blue Dot” that the legendary and great scientist Carl Sagan – whose scientific creds include that of all-star astronomer – created.  The Blue Dot refers to a photo of Earth that the NASA Voyager 1 spacecraft shot on its 1989 mission. It was Mr. Sagan, a member of the NASA Voyager 1 imaging team, who, as the spacecraft was about to leave our solar system, successfully urged NASA officials to turn and train the camera on our home and take the image.

Carl Sagan used the photo, in which Earth looks like a blue dot, as a visual set against a speech he wrote and delivered. Please click here to be taken to the film.

Astronomy provides us answers to questions we did not know to ask.

Astronomy abets humility even as it exalts our station amid the unfathomable vastness.

Oh, yes, of course, astronomy supports the explicitly tangible and innovation and development that makes living, and making a living, easier, safer, happier, and more productive.

In the following excerpt from an article, “Astronomy in Everyday Life,” published on the website of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) –and authored by Marissa Rosenberg and Pedro Russo (EU-UNAWE), Leiden Observatory/Leiden University, The Netherlands), and Georgia Bladon and Lars Lindberg Christensen (ESO, Germany) – describes specific areas that benefit from astronomy, while also giving a nod to those cosmic contributions and benefits of the science:

“The fruits of scientific and technological development in astronomy, especially in areas such as optics and electronics, have become essential to our day-to-day life, with applications such as personal computers, communication satellites, mobile phones, Global Positioning Systems, solar panels and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners.

“Although the study of astronomy has provided a wealth of tangible, monetary and technological gains, perhaps the most important aspect of astronomy is not one of economical measure. Astronomy has and continues to revolutionize our thinking on a worldwide scale. In the past, astronomy has been used to measure time, mark the seasons, and navigate the vast oceans. As one of the oldest sciences astronomy is part of every culture’s history and roots. It inspires us with beautiful images and promises answers to the big questions. It acts as a window into the immense size and complexity of space, putting Earth into perspective and promoting global citizenship and pride in our home planet.”

If you click here you will be taken to the full article in which you can read more about how astronomy makes life better.

We also wanted to point out … and we just had to, because it is all so immensely intriguing and engrossing … an example of how astronomy is enlisted in the quest to find out if we Earthlings share the universe with other intelligent beings.

Consider the ongoing radio astronomy commotion, and vibrant conversation, and deep analysis, and far-reaching conjecture, which rises from the phenomenon of fast radio bursts, or FRB, first identified in 2007 within data that radio a radio telescope had collected.

Now it seems that established and respected scientists believe that it is possible that these FRBs are power sources for alien spacecraft traveling through the galaxies.  Really.  To learn more about the scientists positing this theory, and the science behind the theory, please click here to be taken to a Popular Mechanics story, “Harvard Scientists Theorize That Fast Radio Bursts Come From Alien Space Travel: Could these mysterious flashes of radio waves come from a planet-sized device to power alien spacecraft?”, written by Jay Bennett, and published on March 9, 2017.

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Whether in the field of electronics or navigation or MRIs or searching for beings from other galaxies … or the many, many other sectors of life … astronomy plays an integral and important role.

And Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence (HMI) plays an integral and important role in enabling astronomy technology and devices and instruments to operate with optimum accuracy.

 

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