Heather Situ was born and raised in Honolulu, Oahu. She is currently a junior at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school, focusing on either Materials Science and Engineering or Aerospace Engineering. She is particularly interested in the development of spacecraft and in the application of materials in the biomedical and nanotechnology field. Outside of school, Heather likes to doodle, watch movies, hike, and travel.
Home Island: Oahu
Institution when accepted: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Akamai Project: Designing a Holder for Anodized Aluminum Slit Masks
Project Site: Gemini North Observatory
Mentor: Chas Cavedoni
Slit masks pass light emitted by celestial objects into a diffraction grating that disperses the light into a spectrum, providing many details, such as mass, temperature, and chemical composition, on these bodies. Created using laser cutting, slit masks fabricated from sheets of 0.20 mm carbon fiber fit into the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) while those made from 0.08 mm aluminum sheets supplement the Flamingos-2 (F2) instrument. Currently, Gemini North only has a laser cutter mask holder allowing it to manufacture carbon fiber slit masks; however, Gemini North will need to supply aluminum masks to Gemini South in the future. The purpose of this project is to design, fabricate, and test a new holder for the existing LPKF Microline 2120P laser cutter to assist in the production of aluminum slit masks at Gemini North. The product must ensure slits are cut in a precise orientation while also fitting into the LPKF and remaining within the laser’s focal range. Using Inventor, we 3D-modeled the present fixture and redesigned its components to meet the needs of the aluminum masks. After design review and approval, fabrication drawings were created and sent to the machine shop to manufacture the holder. The final product will then be inserted back into the LPKF machine to cut slits into the aluminum material. Based on these test results, the design of the mask holder will be adjusted accordingly. Gemini’s new in-house ability to quickly and accurately manufacture both carbon fiber and aluminum slit masks on-demand enable it to meet the demanding needs of its scientific community and fulfill the organization’s mission of “Exploring the Universe, Sharing its Wonders.”