Further Development of Aperture: A Precise Extremely large Reflective Telescope Using Re-configurable Elements

Project: Research project

Project Details


Instead of using magnetostriction on a membrane mirror, all current space mirrors rely on the piezoelectric or electrostatic effect, which requires actuators to be attached to the mirror and subsequently wires to be attached to the actuators. The piezo approach with rigid segments, similar to that of the JWST, is the baseline for the ATLAST mission [1]. The APERTURE concept presents great potential benefits to this future mission because the rigid segment 16 m design relies on a fully developed Space Launch System (SLS). Thus not only will the flexible mirror design APERTURE allow for launch with currently available rocket fairings, but can also be expanded well beyond the currently proposed 16-m diameter maximum of ATLAST [2]. Provided that the membrane is thin enough, the umbrella design can be applied to even larger diameters. Larger mirrors with commensurate figure quality pave the way for promising space telescope missions. Also, the maturing of the technology proposed here would lead to an extension of more technological challenges such as the Terrestrial Planet Finder. In addition, the ATLAS-T concept, which required the 10-m baseline fairing of the now canceled Ares V heavy lift vehicle [3], now requires the future modified SLS. Given that the ARES V heavy lift vehicle is no longer an option, the need for a telescope design utilizing an existing rocket is ever present. In Phase I, it was proven that a membrane mirror can fit into the existing Delta IV Heavy rocket fairing without producing structural micro-yield, making a thin membrane reflector an ideal candidate for potential missions.
Effective start/end date7/1/169/30/18


  • NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (NNX16AL31G-000001)


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