New design of Lockheed-Martin makes smaller, lighter space telescopes

New design of Lockheed-Martin makes smaller, lighter space telescopes


Since the time of Galileo Galilei, the telescope is the key instrument of astronomy. With a combination of lenses and mirrors, captured the light of the stars and the resulting image to our eyes. This concept has remained contained and is also used in modern equipment such as space telescopes. A novel telescope design could now provide for a U-turn in telescope technology.

The company is developing Lockheed Martin a telescope, that the current two-mirror technique tiny lenses replaced by a thin layer of hundreds (potentially thousands), which transferred the image on a silicon chip, much like with the camera in smartphones.

The new system goes by the name of SPIDER (segmented Planar Imaging detector for electro-optical reconnaissance) and works on the principle of interferometry, a technique in which combines two light pulses from the same source to improve the resolution of an image. The technology is by no means new to astronomy, but the ability to miniaturize the necessary technological means, could potentially make for a revolution.

SPIDER detectors reduce the weight, the size and energy requirements of the technology by a factor of 10 to 100, which is particularly important when it comes to potential applications in space telescopes. Although it is SPIDER only a prototype, but this is already clearly more flexible than existing telescopes. SPIDER telescopes can be produced in a few weeks and are extremely low maintenance, making it ideal for use in space.