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Flexible Mirror for Space Telescopes Developed by Samara Scientists
September 11, 2017 13:50

The system developed on the ground of the domestic element basis can be used both in space and on Earth.
Scientists of the Samara State Technical University (SamSTU) have developed and patented a method to reduce distortions and increase the resolution of space telescopes. The development will help improve the performance of Earth remote sensing devices. This was reported about by Professor Yakob Klebanov, the head of the mechanics department at SamSTU.
“We set the telescope mirror in one shape or another, which is required to compensate for the aberrations in the entire optical system. It is about shifting the surface of the mirror to microns and fraction of microns, which makes it possible to get rid of distortions," – Professor Klebanov said.
As the scientist noted, improving the image quality and resolving power of the telescope is attained mainly by increasing the size of the mirror. However, the larger the size, the greater the problems. The temperature background of the satellite while in orbit is constantly changing, whereas change in telescope temperature by several degrees can drastically worsen the quality of the resulting image.
In addition, a large telescope is more difficult to place onboard a spacecraft. In the development of Samara scientists, the telescope mirror is fixed not to a rigid base, but to the system of movable piezo-actuators (special electric drives), which automatically deform the mirror into micron fractions in the right places, so that the distortions of the image disappear. This happens under the influence of computer signals.
The system reconfigures itself in fractions of a second and can be used not only in space, but also on Earth. For automatic control, scientists have developed special software. The domestic element base is mainly used in the invented system. The works were carried out with the support of the Samara Space and Progress Center.
A grant for work on this subject was provided by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR). The invention has already been patented in Russia and the US. The developers hope that in the future such "flexible" mirrors will improve the resolution of optical systems of Earth remote sensing satellites.


Author: Vera Ivanova



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