23 September 1994 Silicon carbide as a basis for spaceflight optical systems
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Abstract
New advances in the areas of microelectronics and micro-mechanical devices have created a momentum in the development of lightweight, miniaturized, electro-optical space subsystems. The performance improvements achieved and new observational techniques developed as a result, have provided a basis for a new range of Small Explorer, Discovery-class and other low-cost mission concepts for space exploration. However, the ultimate objective of low-mass, inexpensive space science missions will only be achieved with a companion development in the areas of flight optical systems and sensor instrument benches. Silicon carbide (SiC) is currently emerging as an attractive technology to fill this need. As a material basis for reflective, flight telescopes and optical benches, SiC offers: the lightweight and stiffness characteristics of beryllium; glass-like inherent stability consistent with performance to levels of diffraction-limited visible resolution; superior thermal properties down to cryogenic temperatures; and an existing, commercially-based material and processing infrastructure like aluminum. This paper will describe the current status and results of on-going technology developments to utilize these material properties in the creation of lightweight, high- performing, thermally robust, flight optical assemblies. System concepts to be discussed range from an 18 cm aperture, 4-mirror, off-axis system weighing less than 2 kg to a 0.5 m, 15 kg reimager. In addition, results in the development of a thermally-stable, `GOES-like' scan mirror will be presented.
© (1994) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Michael E. Curcio, "Silicon carbide as a basis for spaceflight optical systems", Proc. SPIE 2267, Advanced Microdevices and Space Science Sensors, (23 September 1994); doi: 10.1117/12.187469; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.187469
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