Eyeglass Large Aperture, Lightweight Space Optics FY2000 - FY2002 LDRD Strategic Initiative

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A series of studies by the Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office and NASA have identified the critical role played by large optics in fulfilling many of the space related missions of these agencies. Whether it is the Next Generation Space Telescope for NASA, high resolution imaging systems for NRO, or beam weaponry for the Air Force, the diameter of the primary optic is central to achieving high resolution (imaging) or a small spot size on target (lethality). While the detailed requirements differ for each application (high resolution imaging over the visible and near-infrared for earth observation, high damage threshold ... continued below

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PDF-FILE: 135 ; SIZE: 105.3 MBYTES pages

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Hyde, R February 10, 2003.

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  • Main Title: Eyeglass Large Aperture, Lightweight Space Optics FY2000 - FY2002 LDRD Strategic Initiative
  • Series Title: Fiscal Year 2000
  • Series Title: Fiscal Year 2002

Description

A series of studies by the Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office and NASA have identified the critical role played by large optics in fulfilling many of the space related missions of these agencies. Whether it is the Next Generation Space Telescope for NASA, high resolution imaging systems for NRO, or beam weaponry for the Air Force, the diameter of the primary optic is central to achieving high resolution (imaging) or a small spot size on target (lethality). While the detailed requirements differ for each application (high resolution imaging over the visible and near-infrared for earth observation, high damage threshold but single-wavelength operation for directed energy), the challenges of a large, lightweight primary optic which is space compatible and operates with high efficiency are the same. The advantage of such large optics to national surveillance applications is that it permits these observations to be carried-out with much greater effectiveness than with smaller optics. For laser weapons, the advantage is that it permits more tightly focused beams which can be leveraged into either greater effective range, reduced laser power, and/or smaller on-target spot-sizes; weapon systems can be made either much more effective or much less expensive. This application requires only single-wavelength capability, but places an emphasis upon robust, rapidly targetable optics. The advantages of large aperture optics to astronomy are that it increases the sensitivity and resolution with which we can view the universe. This can be utilized either for general purpose astronomy, allowing us to examine greater numbers of objects in more detail and at greater range, or it can enable the direct detection and detailed examination of extra-solar planets. This application requires large apertures (for both light-gathering and resolution reasons), with broad-band spectral capability, but does not emphasize either large fields-of-view or pointing agility. Despite differences in their requirements and implementations, the fundamental difficulty in utilizing large aperture optics is the same for all of these applications: It is extremely difficult to design large aperture space optics which are both optically precise and can meet the practical requirements for launch and deployment in space. At LLNL we have developed a new concept (Eyeglass) which uses large diffractive optics to solve both of these difficulties; greatly reducing both the mass and the tolerance requirements for large aperture optics. During previous LDRD-supported research, we developed this concept, built and tested broadband diffractive telescopes, and built 50 cm aperture diffraction-limited diffractive lenses (the largest in the world). This work is fully described in UCRL-ID-136262, Eyeglass: A Large Aperture Space Telescope. However, there is a large gap between optical proof-of-principle with sub-meter apertures, and actual 50 meter space telescopes. This gap is far too large (both in financial resources and in spacecraft expertise) to be filled internally at LLNL; implementation of large aperture diffractive space telescopes must be done externally using non-LLNL resources and expertise. While LLNL will never become the primary contractor and integrator for large space optical systems, our natural role is to enable these devices by developing the capability of producing very large diffractive optics. Accordingly, the purpose of the Large Aperture, Lightweight Space Optics Strategic Initiative was to develop the technology to fabricate large, lightweight diffractive lenses. The additional purpose of this Strategic Initiative was, of course, to demonstrate this lens-fabrication capability in a fashion compellingly enough to attract the external support necessary to continue along the path to full-scale space-based telescopes. During this 3 year effort (FY2000-FY2002) we have developed the capability of optically smoothing and diffractively-patterning thin meter-sized sheets of glass into lens panels. We have also developed alignment and seaming techniques which allow individual lens panels to be assembled together, forming a much larger, segmented, diffractive lens. The capabilities provided by this LDRD-supported developmental effort were then demonstrated by the fabrication and testing of a lightweight, 5 meter aperture, diffractive lens.

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PDF-FILE: 135 ; SIZE: 105.3 MBYTES pages

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  • Other Information: PBD: 10 Feb 2003

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  • Report No.: UCRL-ID-151390
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/15003388 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 15003388
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc1403914

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  • February 10, 2003

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Jan. 12, 2019, 4:41 p.m.

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  • Feb. 5, 2019, 7:19 p.m.

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Hyde, R. Eyeglass Large Aperture, Lightweight Space Optics FY2000 - FY2002 LDRD Strategic Initiative, report, February 10, 2003; California. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1403914/: accessed April 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.