This chapter addresses general issues that typically must be considered by designers or engineers during the evolution of an optical instrument design that will meet performance requirements prescribed by the system specification, while adhering to constraints imposed by that document. Subsequent chapters delve more deeply into specific design issues involving mounting various types of optics.
We begin this chapter by reviewing some ways in which optics are used in instruments. Effective engineering design of those instruments requires advance knowledge of the adverse environments under which the product is expected to provide specified performance as well as those more severe environments it must survive without damage, so we summarize ways in which temperature, pressure, vibration, shock, moisture, contamination, corrosion, high-energy radiation, abrasion, erosion, and fungus can affect an instrument's performance andâor its useful life. We also offer some general suggestions for designing an apparatus to withstand these adverse conditions. The extreme environments to be expected on or near the surface of Earth and in space are summarized. Ways to test instruments for compatibility with those environments are reviewed. Because careful selection of materials is vital for maximizing environmental resistance and ensuring the proper operation of the product, we also review selected attributes of some of the most frequently used optical and mechanical materials. The chapter closes with brief considerations of tolerancing and manufacturing optical and mechanical components.
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