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18 December 2002 Advanced Segmented Silicon Space Telescope (ASSiST)
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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
© (2002) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Richard G. Dekany, Douglas G. MacMartin, Gary A. Chanan, and Mitchell Troy "Advanced Segmented Silicon Space Telescope (ASSiST)", Proc. SPIE 4849, Highly Innovative Space Telescope Concepts, (18 December 2002); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.460563
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