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Mike Mattei - Biography

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Mike began working at the Harvard Observatory's Agassiz Station as the night assistant. After a few years of learning the system, he was able to conduct the observations for the astronomers. These observations consisted of photometry, photography, spectrum scaning, polarimetry, and visual observations. After seven years he had to look for another position and found one at the Unitron Telescope Company working as assistant manager. Again a few years later he had to change his job catogory, and this time he decided to go into the field of optics. Space Optice took him in and trained him to make professional optics and he became there optican for aspherics optics. Two years into this position Mike was asked to join a group at O.S.T.I. Optical Systems and Techonology Inc. Here Mike could expand his knowledge of prototype optics. Working on many of the different projects gave him skills beyond the first company he worked for.

After three years into that job, Mike was asked to join Lincoln Labs as an optican to work on a project for the Government Star Wars radar systems. Mike was in charge of a complete optical shop that colud make optics from a blank to the coating. Here he was able to build optics at a research level that was on the leading edge of the technology. In 1983 Mike built a special planetary telescope for himself, and entered it at the Stellafane convention where the birth place of amateur astronomy began. His telescope took first place in optics, and he continues to use this scope today. Mike's best work may have been when he was asked to find a way to prepair the surfaces of some crystals that were to be used in the radar they were building. These crystals had to have a surface that was as perfect as possible with no blemishes, that is, no streaks, scratches, or pits. After three months he found a way to make perfect surfaces, but it took another three months to learn how to clean the surfaces, because you could not even touch them or you would put marks in to the surface. A year after this Mike applied for a patent for the process of how to polish and clean the surfaces of these crystals.

In March of 1990 Mike and the crew who built the Laser Imaging Optical Radar carried out the first offical test, and with complete success. Six more tests were performed on this radar system, all successful. Finally, in 1993 the Navy cut funds to the project, and Mike had to seek another position. In 1994 Mike applied for a position at MIT's Wallace Astrophysical Observatory, where his is now employed as a technician, and observer working with a telescope to observe the outer planets such as Pluto, and satellites of outer planets which may pass in front of a star and occult it. He collects the data that predictions are made from. Mike's other interest are of course optics, he has a small optical shop at home where he repairs or builds mirrors for amateurs. In his garage he has a small machine shop with a lathe, and milling machine, all to make telescopes. Mike's other hobbies are photography, model railraoding, World War II history, and nature and science programs seen on public tv.

Mike's formal education consist only of a high school diploma, he has no college background, but is self educated. Mike does a lot of reading, and has taught himself what he needs to know about a subject when he gets interested in something. Mike has just finished constructing a CCD camera from a kit from which his first images are of the planet Mars, and for a first time try they came out pretty good.

Last Updated on April 19, 2000

Karen Meech, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii