LESIA Observatoire de Paris-PSL CNRS Sorbonne Université Université de Paris


Microgate is a SME based in Bolzano, Italy. The company operates in four fields: Professional Timing, Training & Sport, Medical Rehab and Engineering. The company expertise covers the whole development process of its products, including hardware, firmware and software design, as well as the production of medium quantities. All processes inside the company are monitored by means of certified quality systems (ISO9001 and ISO13485 certifications).

The Engineering department is mainly focused on large project for astronomy, and more specifically on adaptive optics systems for large telescopes. In this specific field, we have developed over the past 20 years the large, contactless deformable mirror technology, together with other Italian partners (ADS International, INAF-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri and the Aerospace Engineering Department of Politecnico di Milano). This technology has been already deployed realizing the adaptive secondary mirror of several large telescopes, including the Multiple Mirror Telescope (MMT - Arizona), the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT – Arizona), the Magellan Telescope (Chile) and the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT – Chile). Microgate is currently engaged in the design of the adaptive mirrors for the next generation of Extremely Large Telescopes (ELTs), in particular the ESO European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) and the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT).

These mirrors are ‘massively controlled’ structures which shape is determined by a large number – up to several thousands – of actuators. The real time control of such mirrors requires extreme computational throughput in a hard real time environment; moreover, physical and layout constraints impose a minimization of power consumption. In this frame, Microgate has developed a very specific know how in developing fully customized solutions based on large clusters of mixed DSP-FPGA boards and, more recently, on FPGAs only. This modular specific hardware, which embeds also the analog front-end for the digital control of the actuated system, has been employed also to perform other fundamental tasks in the adaptive optics loop, like wavefront sensing and real-time wavefront reconstruction.

Besides the hard real-time applications, the company expertise covers also middleware and less stringent real time control. A good example in this field is the control system and metrology for the European antennas of the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimetric Array) project, developed by Microgate in the past years. Also the user interfaces are developed in house: this is crucial aspect, not only for the commercial products of the Professional Timing, Training & Sport, Medical Rehab, but also for the engineering interfaces of the adaptive optics system.