A team from the London-based Open Space Agency (OSA) has produced the Ultrascope, a downloadable telescope design that can be generated by a 3D printer, be controlled by simple robotics, and captures images using the camera on a smartphone. OSA’s James Parr says the group wanted to show that it was possible to create an open source design that people could build cheaply at home and use to do scientifically valuable observations. The phones on the Ultrascope automatically upload images to the cloud and Parr hopes users will build up a library of shared images online. (An annotated image from beta testing is shown below.) The OSA team will launch a model with a 9-centimeter mirror at the San Diego Maker Faire in California in October. But a later, 30-centimeter model should be capable of astronomical tasks such as characterizing potentially hazardous near-Earth objects. “We want to create a community and do projects that are useful,” Parr says.
(Video credit: Science Magazine)