Proceedings PaperAperture-Synthesis Interferometry At Optical Wavelengths
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The prospects for applying aperture-synthesis interferometry to the optical domain are reviewed. The radio examples such as the VLA provide a model, since the concepts are equally valid for radio and optical wavelengths. If scientific problems at the milliarc-second resolution level (or better) are to be addressed, a space-based optical array seems to be the only practical alternative, for the same reasons that dictated array development at radio wavelengths. One concept is examined, and speculations are offered concerning the prospects for developing real systems. Phase-coherence is strongly desired for a practical array, although self-calibration and phase-closure techniques allow one to relax the restriction on absolute phase stability. The design of an array must be guided by the scientific problems to be addressed.