Scientists Hope To Improve Space Telescopes

February 16, 1998

HOUGHTON, MI--Mike Roggemann and Tim Schulz, researchers in Michigan Technological University's Electrical Engineering Department, are developing new techniques to sense distortions in space telescopes.

The goal of the project is to sense wave front errors on the thin mirrors of large space telescopes. "To lighten mirrors as much as possible for launch," says Roggemann, associate professor of electrical engineering, "mirrors are being made thinner and therefore less mechanically stable with every new telescope.

"In the space environment, the mirrors are very susceptible to vibrations from pointing the telescopes at differnt targets and also to thermal stresses caused by the telescopes passing in and out of Earth's shadow." In space, as Earth follows a path around the sun, shadows trail behind. Since no heat from the Sun can warm the shadow, temperatures fall to extreme levels.

Subjected to such stresses, "the clarity of the telescope mirrors becomes comparible to the eyesight of a person wearing glasses," says Roggemann. "The big, thin mirrors can have large aberations in their shape so that focusing becomes difficult. When a person needs glasses, an eye doctor tests a range of possible corrective lenses. In space, the aberation change time, and can't constantly be monitored by humans.

"A common aberation in space telescopes measures a few microns," says Roggemann. "That is a huge error in optical terms." The aberations, once sensed, can be corrected by mechanisms pushing and pulling the mirrors from inside.

Roggemann and Schulz developed algorithms to measure the wave fronts with software and are working on a lab experiment to demonstrate the technology. With this application, space exploration can continue to expand into new territory by providing ways for space telescopes like the Hubbel to focus properly.

The project is being supported by a grant of $184,000 from Select Tech Services through the Air Force Ofice of Scientific Research.

For more information, contact:
Mike Roggemann (906)487-2550;
Tim Schulz (906)487-2754;

Michigan Technological University

Related Electrical Engineering Articles from Brightsurf:

Knotting semimetals in topological electrical circuits
Scientists created exotic states of matter using electrical circuit enhanced by machine-learning algorithm

Physicists make electrical nanolasers even smaller
Researchers cleared the obstacle that had prevented the creation of electrically driven nanolasers for integrated circuits.

Making plastic more transparent while also adding electrical conductivity
In an effort to improve large touchscreens, LED light panels and window-mounted infrared solar cells, researchers at the University of Michigan have made plastic conductive while also making it more transparent.

Using electrical stimulus to regulate genes
A team of researchers led by ETH professor Martin Fussenegger has succeeded in using an electric current to directly control gene expression for the first time.

2D oxide flakes pick up surprise electrical properties
Rice University researchers find evidence of piezoelectricity in lab-grown, two-dimensional flakes of molybdenum dioxide.

Electrical activity in living organisms mirrors electrical fields in atmosphere
A new Tel Aviv University study provides evidence for a direct link between electrical fields in the atmosphere and those found in living organisms, including humans.

3D-printed plastics with high performance electrical circuits
Rutgers engineers have embedded high performance electrical circuits inside 3D-printed plastics, which could lead to smaller and versatile drones and better-performing small satellites, biomedical implants and smart structures.

In and out with 10-minute electrical vehicle recharge
Electric vehicle owners may soon be able to pull into a fueling station, plug their car in, go to the restroom, get a cup of coffee and in 10 minutes, drive out with a fully charged battery, according to a team of engineers.

Electrical stimulation aids in spinal fusion
Spine surgeons in the U.S. perform more than 400,000 spinal fusions each year as a way to ease back pain and prevent vertebrae in the spine from wiggling around and doing more damage.

Fat pumps generate electrical power
A previously unknown electrical current develops in the body's cells when the vital fat pump function of the flippases transfers ('flips') lipids from the outer to the inner layer of the body's cell membranes.

Read More: Electrical Engineering News and Electrical Engineering Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to