Light Weight Astronomical Telescope Mirror and Lens Blanks | Aerospace, Defense, Space, and Ground-Based Astronomy Systems | Corning

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Telescope Mirror and Lens Blanks

Telescope Mirror and Lens Blanks

Telescope Mirror and Lens Blanks

Telescope Mirror and Lens Blanks

Corning has a rich history in space exploration, producing mirrors for the Hubble, Gemini, and Subaru telescopes; along with providing window glass for all of NASA's manned spacecraft missions and the International Space Station.  These mirrors are made of Corning's ultra low expansion ULE® glass, a material that exhibits virtually no dimensional changes over extreme temperature variations and is generally considered the best in the world for astronomical optics.

The light-weighting techniques used in the Hubble mirror have been extended to other space program and ground-based astronomy applications. Reducing the weight of these large mirrors - sometimes down to one eighth the weight of an equal sized solid mirror -- allows changes to the superstructure for ground-based telescopes, helping to reduce costs and extending functionality.

Corning continues to develop and expand the use of this technology. Current and future space-based telescopes may contain Corning mirrors that are less than 10 percent of the weight of an equal-sized solid mirror. The technology has been adapted for use in the geostationary (GOES) weather satellites, which are key U.S. resources for weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts.

Corning HPFS® Fused Silica is a material of choice for large transmissive optics in astronomical applications. HPFS® boules can be formed as large as 1.75m in diameter and with excellent index homogeneity. Nominally all measurements within a boule are < 4ppm Δn. Material is available in smaller blank sizes that meet 3 ppm and as low as < 1.5ppm Δn. This material has been used in recent programs such as the LBT 40” correctors, Keck upgrade prisms, Smithsonian Hectochelle multi-purpose spectrograph, Pan-STARRS optics, and the Dark Energy Survey Camera.

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