Actively Cooled Silicon Lightweight Mirrors for Far Infrared and Submillimeter Optical Systems

Period of Performance: 01/01/2005 - 12/31/2005

$598K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Schafer Corp.
321 Billerica Road
Chelmsford, MA 01824
Principal Investigator
Firm POC

Abstract

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.