The NASA-sponsored space exploration project, PICTURE (Planet Imaging Concept Testbed Using a Rocket Experiment), seeks to obtain a direct image of an extra-solar giant planet. The PICTURE telescope, which uses a BMC deformable mirror for adaptive optic wavefront control, was launched aboard a NASA sounding rocket in October 2011. Preliminary data show that the MEMS deformable mirror was successful in its operation.

BMC was awarded a Phase II contract by NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program to support NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration program. The Phase II contract was awarded after BMC successfully completed its Phase I project, and will expand upon those results of increased reliability.

One of NASA’s core objectives is to search for earth-sized planets outside of our solar system. Deformable mirrors play a key role in space-based imaging as they are used to correct the residual aberrations that space telescope optics cannot address. In - struments in space-based imaging have unique reliability challenges due to the harsh environment in which they operate; deformable mirrors are subject to ionizing radiation that can cause instability in the voltages that drive the deformable mirror.

This grant will enable BMC to construct a 2,048-actuator, continuous-facesheet MEMS deformable mirror with enhanced reliability to handle the harsh environments, advancing the development of space-based, high-contrast imaging instruments.

MEMS-based deformable mirror products
Boston Micromachines Corp. (BMC)
Cambridge, MA
617-868-4178
www.bostonmicromachines.com

For Free Info Click Here 


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the August, 2012 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

Read more articles from this issue here.

Read more articles from the archives here.