CE: Mechanical Engineering


SAO Central Engineering mechanical engineers provide the complete range of engineering skill necessary to create cutting edge scientific instrumentation for the astronomical/astrophysical community. Collectively, the group has decades of successful experience creating innovative equipment to meet the needs--scientific, budgetary, and schedule--of CfA scientists. Their capabilities cover all phases of mechanical development: from overall mechanical systems engineering and instrument concept design, to detailed mechanical system, subsystem, and component design. They have particular experience in retrofitting existing observatories to keep them productive years beyond their original design life. When support is needed, it can be provided for the entire course of a project--from conceptual design and proposal preparation through detail design, fabrication, test, delivery, field integration, and mission operations --or for any portion of it.

The groupís unique design expertise has been acquired through many years successful projects that required skills in a comprehensive inventory of state-of-the-art mechanical engineering fields, and run the gamut of modern astronomy and astrophysics. Selected areas of focus include:

  • Ground and spaced-based telescopes and instrumentation
  • Gondolas for balloon borne instruments
  • Laboratory, test, and calibration systems
  • Ultra-high vacuum systems design and fabrication
  • Robotics and multi-axis motion systems
  • Dynamics and control systems design and analysis
  • Precision mechanisms
  • Opto-mechanical design for optical systems and components
  • X-ray detector design and development
  • Mechanical systems design
  • Ultra-high precision measurement

In addition, the group has a number of design support tools and ancillary services related to mechanical engineering best practices.

Laboratory Facilities:

Central Engineering relocated to new facilities at Cambridge Discovery Park in December, 2006. This provided the engineering staff with the opportunity to design state-of-the-art assembly and test laboratories from the ground up. The laboratory resources available to mechanical engineers are described here

Current and Recently Completed Projects


Chief Mechanical Engineer: Mr. George U. Nystrom (617) 495-7190
  MMT Fiber Positioner 2
Exterior View of MMT Hectospec Fiber Positioner (Click here for a larger version of the image.)

Section Photo