Precision UV Telescope Optics from Optical Surfaces Enhance Performance of NASA Swift Explorer

Topics Covered

Introduction
Contributions Made by Optical Surfaces
About Optical Surfaces Ltd.

Introduction

The NASA Swift Explorer mission utilising optics from Optical Surfaces was successfully placed in orbit on 20th November 2004 from a Delta II launcher.

The satellite observes gamma rays bursts (GRBs), the most energetic phenomena in the universe. As a result of their high energy output, they can be seen at greater distances and therefore yield data from close to the origins of the universe.

Contributions Made by Optical Surfaces

Optical Surfaces' contribution was to the UV optical telescope (UVOT), which simultaneously observes the bursts at optical wavelengths. Based on a lightweight conically back design, the telescope has a 310mm diameter f2 diffraction limited Ritchey Chretien system with a high precision polish to nurse every photon into the correct place.

UVOT is now successfully acquiring images in UV wavelengths of gamma ray afterglows, and was recently used to image the impact of "Deep Impact" on comet Tempel 1 in July 2005. The UVOT is able to determine the location of any afterglow it sees to an accuracy of a few tenths of an arcsecond and can record down to mag.24 in 17 minutes. It is expected that Swift will observe around 100 GRBs in a year.

Tempel 1 image from UVOT. Background stars are streaksdue to cometary motion, not due to our optics!

About Optical Surfaces Ltd.

Optical Surfaces Ltd, has been producing optical components and systems for more than 30 years and is now accepted as one of Europe's leading manufacturers of high-precision optics.

The main workshops and test facilities are deep underground in a series of tunnels excavated in solid chalk where temperature remains constant and vibration is practically non-existent.

With such stable conditions testing particularly with long path lengths become quantifiable and reliable. Working with these natural advantages is a highly skilled team of craftsmen with a commitment to excellence in both product quality and customer service.

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