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Proceedings Paper

High-precision optical systems with inexpensive hardware: a unified alignment and structural design approach
Author(s): Edward G. Winrow; Victor H. Chavez
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Paper Abstract

High-precision opto-mechanical structures have historically been plagued by high costs for both hardware and the associated alignment and assembly process. This problem is especially true for space applications where only a few production units are produced. A methodology for optical alignment and optical structure design is presented which shifts the mechanism of maintaining precision from tightly toleranced, machined flight hardware to reusable, modular tooling. Using the proposed methodology, optical alignment error sources are reduced by the direct alignment of optics through their surface retroreflections (pips) as seen through a theodolite. Optical alignment adjustments are actualized through motorized, sub-micron precision actuators in 5 degrees of freedom. Optical structure hardware costs are reduced through the use of simple shapes (tubes, plates) and repeated components. This approach produces significantly cheaper hardware and more efficient assembly without sacrificing alignment precision or optical structure stability. The design, alignment plan and assembly of a 4" aperture, carbon fiber composite, Schmidt-Cassegrain concept telescope is presented.

Paper Details

Date Published: 24 September 2011
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 8125, Optomechanics 2011: Innovations and Solutions, 812509 (24 September 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.892635
Show Author Affiliations
Edward G. Winrow, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Victor H. Chavez, Sandia National Labs. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8125:
Optomechanics 2011: Innovations and Solutions
Alson E. Hatheway, Editor(s)

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