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

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 ...
Date: February 10, 2003
Creator: Hyde, R
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department