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Proceedings Paper

Fully active telescope
Author(s): Mark A. Ealey
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Paper Abstract

Conventional telescopes whether for ground or space feature a highly accurate primary mirror coupled to a secondary and other mirrors using a stiff metering structure. In the last decade, significant progress has been made in aperture size (8 to 10-meters on the ground) and 2.4-meters in space. It is our position that highly active components made using revolutionary new materials will enable the reduction of mass, provide Angstrom level wavefront control, and enable highly integrated compact space telescope designs. It is the intent of this paper to discuss a roadmap on a component basis that can serve as a building block for future telescope systems having lower areal density, larger mirror apertures, and greater resolution and bandwidth. Precision actuators under computer control are being developed that enable Angstrom level control of the telescope structure. Structural materials such as silicon carbide provide the ability to make mirrors with an order of magnitude lower areal density while retaining dimensional stability, high natural resonance, and excellent optical quality. Highly active primary mirror configurations that combine the relative merits of control actuators and silicon carbide will provide an order of magnitude increase in control authority. Deformable mirrors having 10,000+ actuator channels offer the potential to field coronagraphic instruments that can image planets about distant stars. Multi-functional optics that integrates both tilt and fine phase control functions in a single device enable wavefront control in a very compact package. Low power, vacuum compatible drive electronics designed specific to the actuator operating mode are being developed in a hybrid microelectronics package. Material processing on the nanoscale provides the basis for a new class of functional hybrid materials that feature the scaling of polymers, the dimensional stability of ceramics, and the structural strength of metals.

Paper Details

Date Published: 30 January 2004
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 5166, UV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes: Innovative Technologies and Concepts, (30 January 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.512726
Show Author Affiliations
Mark A. Ealey, Xinetics, Inc. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5166:
UV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes: Innovative Technologies and Concepts
Howard A. MacEwen, Editor(s)

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