Reaching for the stars — with simulation

By John Gaioni

Most people believe that Galileo Galilei was the first astronomer to invent the telescope. However, the first telescope was made by a German-Dutch glassmaker by the name of Hans Lipperhey in the early 1600’s. Lipperhey’s patent was ultimately rejected (there is great historical debate as to why) but his telescope model became the inspiration to other scientists and inventors for the next 400 years. 

Today’s telescopes are astounding feats of engineering that continue to benefit from computer technology and software.  One such example of a company leveraging powerful software technology is Italian-based ADS International (ADS).

For nearly 30 years, ADS has been designing and building telescope, radio telescope and astronomic instruments, with two main product lines: adaptive optics and optics alignment systems. In a business in which each product is one of a kind, the company supports customers from preliminary study through execution, integration and final installation. ADS customers are universities, research centers and large international observatories, including the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

A major challenge that ADS faced in the design of its astronomic instruments is responding to their customers unique demands within a reasonable time frame.   The ADS team also needed to move rapidly from the virtual prototype stage to structural and thermal analysis and then digital simulation.

To support a cross-disciplinary approach to identify and develop customer-specific engineering solutions, ADA began using Siemens Simcenter Femap software, a CAD-independent pre- and postprocessor, for their computer-aided engineering (CAE) needs.  From the beginning, Simcenter Femap showed a noticeable reduction in processing time. 

Learn more on how ADS International uses simulation to save on time and costs in the creation of its astronomic instruments.

This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at