Proceedings PaperLunar-based astronomical observatories
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Future optical observatories in space will require telescopes of very high resolution. To satisfy this demand, technology must be developed for large mirrors capable of diffraction-limited imaging. Conventional monolithic glass substrates (light-weight or not) have serious limitations for future development. In particular, glass is susceptible to fracture during ground- handling, transport and launch. An alternative solution is aluminum. It has lower cost, increased strength, easier and safer methods of fixing, amongst other advantages. It is readily lightweighted and can be produced with good polishing quality with nickel coating. We foresee applications for satellite telescope for astronomy, remote sensing, surveys of asteroids and debris in space. Furthermore, this technology is ideally suitable for lunar mounted interferometric experiments--as mirrors can be easily replicate, saving cost--and for telescopes deployed on planetary surfaces. Some results from the european Eureka LAMA (Large Active Mirrors in Aluminum) are here presented, which show the feasibility of such systems.