2 August 2014 An evolvable space telescope for future astronomical missions
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Abstract
Astronomical flagship missions after JWST will require affordable space telescopes and science instruments. Innovative spacecraft-electro-opto-mechanical system architectures matched to the science requirements are needed for observations for exoplanet characterization, cosmology, dark energy, galactic evolution formation of stars and planets, and many other research areas. The needs and requirements to perform this science will continue to drive us toward larger and larger apertures. Recent technology developments in precision station keeping of spacecraft, interplanetary transfer orbits, wavefront/sensing and control, laser engineering, macroscopic application of nano-technology, lossless optical designs, deployed structures, thermal management, interferometry, detectors and signal processing enable innovative telescope/system architectures with break-through performance. Unfortunately, NASA’s budget for Astrophysics is unlikely to be able to support the funding required for the 8 m to 16 m telescopes that have been studied as a follow-on to JWST using similar development/assembly approaches without decimating the rest of the Astrophysics Division’s budget. Consequently, we have been examining the feasibility of developing an “Evolvable Space Telescope” that would begin as a 3 to 4 m telescope when placed on orbit and then periodically be augmented with additional mirror segments, structures, and newer instruments to evolve the telescope and achieve the performance of a 16 m or larger space telescope. This paper reviews the approach for such a mission and identifies and discusses candidate architectures.
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Ronald S. Polidan, James B. Breckinridge, Charles F. Lillie, Howard A. MacEwen, Martin R. Flannery, Dean R Dailey, "An evolvable space telescope for future astronomical missions", Proc. SPIE 9143, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2014: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 914319 (2 August 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2057161; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2057161
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