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Fraunhofer Institute Team Develops Ultra-Precise Optical Surfaces for Space

Sebastian Scheiding, from the Jena-based Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF, said that new metal mirrors have been designed for an infrared sounder telescope (IRS-TEL). A novel production technique developed by Scheiding’s team allows manufacturing of optical surfaces to obtain exceptional positional accuracy and shape.

In the field of space research, powerful devices are required for optical measurement and recording. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) initiated the development of the production technique with the aim of simplifying the mirror positioning process employed in telescope production.

The IOF has demonstrated the precision achievable by using reference structures on a mirror structure for an IRS-TEL. Two mirror modules have been used in the IRS-TEL. Each mirror contains two juxtaposed mirror surfaces. The shape of these aluminum mirrors deviates just 126 nm from the ideal shape.

Scheiding said that the newly developed technique facilitates the production of optical systems with better accuracy. The new technique also makes the production process more economical, as the time-consuming mirror adjustment process carried out during assembly of optical equipment is now eliminated.

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