NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 03- II S3.04-9491
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Large-Aperature Lightweight Cryogenic Telescope Mirrors
PROPOSAL TITLE: Actively Cooled Silicon Lightweight Mirrors for Far Infrared and Submillimeter Optical Systems

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
William A Goodman
2309 Renard Place SE, Suite 300
Albuquerque, NM 01824-4191
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

The NASA Space Science Enterprise has 2 themes requiring large, lightweight cryogenic mirrors: Astronomical Search for Origins and Planetary Systems (ASO) and the Beyond Einstein Initiative of the Structure and Evolution of the Universe (SEU). The long wavelength Far Infrared/Submillimeter (FIR/SMM) instruments of Space Technology 9, the SAFIR Observatory, the Space InfraRed Interferometric Telescope (SPIRIT), and the Submillimeter Probe of the Evolution of Cosmic Structure (SPECS) missions require the highest possible signal-to-noise ratio to resolve the emissions of protogalactic objects and galaxies. The development of 10-25 meter diameter cryogenic optics for the 20-800 microns bandwidth, with an areal density <5 kg/m2, and a surface figure specification of lambda/14 at 20 microns is required. There is a premium for wavelengths >100 microns to achieve mirror temperatures <10K. In fact, at 200 microns wavelength, the point source sensitivity is more dependent on temperature than on aperture size! During the Phase II project Schafer proposes to design, build and test a 0.5-m diameter actively cooled SLMSTM Far Infrared Submillimeter Prototype (FISP) mirror suitable for NASA FIR/SMM missions, thus maturing SLMSTM cryogenic mirror technology to TRL 5-6. Active cooling of SLMSTM mirrors to 4K is an enabling technology for future FIR/SMM instruments.

The Potential Applications for SLMSTM technology falls into two thrust areas of interest by NASA and Commercial Businesses: cryogenic optics and EUV/Visible Ambient Optics. The respective missions of interest are (for cryogenic) SAFIR, SPIRIT, SPECS, TPF interferometer and (for ambient) DMP, SCOPE, MTRAP, SUVO, NHST and TPF coronagraph. It is noteworthy that all missions could be potentially satisfied by a single mirror technology using 2-meter scale segments. With appropriate funding, SLMSTM could be this technology. DoD has similar mirror requirements for infrared/visible imaging, surveillance and reconnaissance missions thus NASA and DoD collaboration to mature SLMSTM technology would be desirable.

The 0.5-meter cryogenic SLMSTM Far Infrared Submillimeter Prototype (FISP) mirror is traceable to the 1.2-2 meter diameter segments required for a 10-meter deployable telescope. The larger segments would be demonstrated on a non-SBIR funded Option program and would mature the technology to TRL 6. Such an approach is analogous to the maturation for the 50 cm Small Beryllium Mirror Demonstrator and 1.2-meter Advanced Mirror System Demonstrator for the James Webb Space Telescope. The long wavelength Far Infrared/Submillimeter (FIR/SMM) instruments of Space Technology 9, SAFIR, SPIRIT, SPECS and Terrestrial Planet Finder missions could take direct advantage of this proposed maturation program.