21 September 2012 MOIRE: initial demonstration of a transmissive diffractive membrane optic for large lightweight optical telescopes
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Abstract
The desire to field space-based telescopes with apertures in excess of 10 meter diameter is forcing the development of extreme lightweighted large optics. Sparse apertures, shell optics, and membrane optics are a few of the approaches that have been investigated and demonstrated. Membrane optics in particular have been investigated for many years. The majority of the effort in membrane telescopes has been devoted to using reflective membrane optics with a fair level of success being realized for small laboratory level systems; however, extending this approach to large aperture systems has been problematic. An alternative approach in which the membrane is used as a diffractive transmission element has been previously proposed, offering a significant relaxation in the control requirements on the membrane surface figure. The general imaging principle has been demonstrated in 50-cm-scale laboratory systems using thin glass and replicated membranes at long f-number (f/50). In addition, a 5-meter diameter f/50 transmissive diffractive optic has been demonstrated, using 50-cm scale segments arrayed in a foldable origami pattern. In this paper we discuss Membrane Optical Imager Real-time Exploitation (MOIRE) Phase 1 developments that culminated in the development and demonstration of an 80 cm diameter, off-axis, F/6.5 phase diffractive transmissive membrane optic. This is a precursor for an optic envisioned as one segment of a 10 meter diameter telescope. This paper presents the demonstrated imaging wavefront performance and collection efficiency of an 80 cm membrane optic that would be used in an F/6.5 primary, discusses the anticipated areal density in relation to existing space telescopes, and identifies how such a component would be used in previously described optical system architectures.
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Paul D. Atcheson, Chris Stewart, Jeanette Domber, Kevin Whiteaker, Jerold Cole, Peter Spuhler, Aaron Seltzer, Jerald A. Britten, Shamasundar N. Dixit, Brandon Farmer, Lensey Smith, "MOIRE: initial demonstration of a transmissive diffractive membrane optic for large lightweight optical telescopes", Proc. SPIE 8442, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2012: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 844221 (21 September 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.925413; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.925413
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