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Proceedings Paper

Advanced Segmented Silicon Space Telescope (ASSiST)
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Paper Abstract

We propose thin silicon wafers as the building blocks of highly segmented space telescope primary mirrors. Using embedded MEMS actuators operating at high bandwidth control, this technology can achieve diffraction-limited image quality in the 3-300 micron wavelength range. The use of silicon wafers as cryogenic mirror segments is carried forward considering a point design of a future FAIR-class NASA ORIGINS mission. We recognize four major economic factors that justify a massive paradigm shift in the fabrication of ultralightweight space telescopes: The precise process control and repeatability of silicon wafer manufacturing dramatically reduces the huge labor investment in mirror figuring experienced with Hubble Space Telescope. Once developed, the incremental cost of additional space telescopes based upon proven silicon manufacturing techniques can be very small. We estimate the marginal cost of a 30m mirror when deploying a constellation can be as low as $36 million (Year 2002 dollars). Federal R&D funding in the area of microelectromechanical devices and advanced 3-D silicon processing is certain to have far greater economic return than similar investments in other technologies, such as optical membrane technology. The $300B per year silicon processing industry will continue to drive increased MEMS functionality, higher product yields, and lower cost. These advances will continue for decades. The intention here is to present the case for the economic advantage of silicon as a highly functional optical substrate that can be fabricated using unparalleled industry experience with precision process control. We maintain that many architectures superior to the ASSiST concept presented here are possible, and hope that this effort prompts future thinking of the silicon wafer telescope paradigm

Paper Details

Date Published: 18 December 2002
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 4849, Highly Innovative Space Telescope Concepts, (18 December 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.460563
Show Author Affiliations
Richard G. Dekany, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Douglas G. MacMartin, California Institute of Technology (United States)
Gary A. Chanan, Univ. of California/Irvine (United States)
Mitchell Troy, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4849:
Highly Innovative Space Telescope Concepts
Howard A. MacEwen, Editor(s)

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