AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 38 Observation and Instrumentation : Optical
Poster, Tuesday, January 6, 2004, 9:20am-6:30pm, Grand Hall

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[38.18] Ultra-lightweight Telescope Technology

P.C. Chen, R.C. Romeo (Composite Mirror Applications, Inc.)

We report progress in the development of a new and rapidly maturing technology for astronomical telescopes and structures. By using carbon fiber composite materials, mirrors can be made that are far lighter and stiffer than are possible with traditional optical materials. Composite technology also permits the fabrication of mirrors with non-circular shapes, on-axis and off-axis figures, supersmooth surfaces, very thin to very thick substrates, and having very low sensitivity to temperature changes and thermal disturbances. Of special note is the ability to produce multiple identical units rapidly and at low cost.

Significant achievements to date include the fabrication of extremely lightweight mirrors with areal density as low as 1 kg/sq.m., diffraction limited optical performance at visible wavelengths, a portable telescope with 0.5m mirror, large thin deformable mirrors for adaptive optics, 1m x 2m mirrors, reflectors and support structures for radio telescopes, and a six meter telescope platform. An observatory with a 1 meter composite mirror telescope is under construction. With further development, composite mirrors can become the enabling technology for new generations of extremely large telescopes (ELTs) on the ground and in space.

This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under grant AST-0320784, B. Twarog (U. Kansas) PI.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: peterchen@compositemirrors.com

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.