Researchers are using studies of Earth's atmosphere undertaken with the LZT to design the next generation of superscopes, particularly the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope and the 39-meter European Extremely Large Telescope.
Paul Hickson (University of British Columbia, Canada) built and directs the Liquid-Mirror Observatory, the home of the LZT. He leads the world in designing these exotic telescopes.
The LZT produces astronomical observations with resolutions comparable to a conventional telescope of similar size, and it observes stars and distant spiral galaxies at around the atmospheric resolution limit.
The LZT currently pursues none of these science projects, though.
It turns out that the LZT can collect precise enough data to resolve the problem.
Using lidar, the LZT picked up never-before-seen eddies and vortices in the sodium layer, as well as details of both its structure and dynamics.
The LZT has 100 to 500 times the collecting area of other lidar systems, he says, and its incredible sensitivity enables measurements with resolutions in meters and on timescales of much less than one second.
Ellerbroek says that he and his colleagues use the LZT's lidar data to design the wavefront-sensing equipment they'll use on the TMT, even to determine what kind of lasers they need to buy.
The LZT may herald a new wave of liquid-mirror telescopes, even though this particular scope will not immediately contribute to astronomical research.