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NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts

Aperture: A Precise Extremely large Reflective Telescope Using Re-configurable Elements

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Aperture: A Precise Extremely large Reflective Telescope Using Re-configurable Elements
Northwestern University, teamed with the University of Illinois (UIUC), proposes to develop a game changing technology for large deployable optical quality mirrors. The innovation combines the concept of a flying magnetic write head with a magnetic smart material that coats the back of the mirror. Northwestern Univ. will work on the materials and shaping the mirror with a magnetic field. UIUC will work on coupling the deployment design to a flying magnetic write head design. Deployable and deformable reflecting membrane mirror have been worked on in the past, but so far the ability to provide post deployment figure corrections to the level of λ/20 has eluded the space community. The Phase I NIAC proposal will identify possible solutions to the main problems, such that a Phase II will take the program to TRL 3 or beyond. Some of the hurdles will be coating in such a way that the coatings (front and back) do not distort the mirror beyond our ability to correct. Another hurdle will be ensuring that the corrected mirror retains its shape for significantly long periods of time thereby minimizing the frequency of routine mirror maintenance. More »

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