The technical innovation involves refinement of the classic optical technique of averaging surface measurements made in different orientations with respect to gravity, so the effects of gravity cancel in the averaged image. Particularly for large, thin mirrors subject to substantial deformation, the further requirement is that mount forces must also cancel when averaged over measurement orientations. The zero-gravity surface figure of a mirror in a hexapod mount is obtained by analyzing the summation of mount forces in the frame of the optic as surface metrology is averaged over multiple clockings. This is illustrated with measurements taken from the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) PT-Ml mirror for both twofold and threefold clocking. The positive results of these measurements and analyses indicate that, from this perspective, a lighter mirror could be used; that is, one might place less reliance on the damping effects of the elliptic partial differential equations that describe the propagation of forces through glass.

The advantage over prior art is relaxing the need for an otherwise substantial thickness of glass that might be needed to ensure accurate metrology in the absence of a detailed understanding and analysis of the mount forces. The general insights developed here are new, and provide the basic design principles on which mirror mount geometry may be chosen.

This work was done by Eric E. Bloemhof, Jonathan C. Lam, V. Alfonso Feria, and Zensheu Chang of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. NPO-47259

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the January, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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