Astronomical mirror fabrication
3D printing for astronomical mirror fabrication
Deformable mirrors are used in telescopes to study astronomy. For space instrumentation, it is a challenge to improve crucial parameters such as bulkiness and weight, while maintaining the optical performance.
The use of 3D printing to create novel lightweight structures is a new and developing field. In this case, printing ceramic material using stereolithography techniques was under investigation. The aim is to evaluate and adopt these techniques, to build a new generation astronomical instruments and advance optical interferometry techniques.
Additive manufacturing offers the potential to build instruments (and components) with optimized design, resulting in improved performance, especially compared to the constraints linked to traditional manufacturing. It opens up a new spectrum of creativity for deformable mirror design and application.
Optical Infrared Coordination Network for Astronomy (OPTICON)
OPTICON is the EC-funded coordination network which supports the multi-national partnerships on which the success of this model rests. OPTICON support in previous FP programmes prototyped and raised to operational level the critical Adaptive Optics (AO) systems in the SPHERE instrument. OPTICON's networking provides the community coherence which leads to coordinated instrument development, future planning, and build the key consortia of institutes. ESO, nationally funded, complemented by the international technology development, community building and transnational access enabled by EC funding has created this balanced excellent system. In H2020 OPTICON will both complete and innovate activities in all three critical areas, extend its proven success in innovation implementation and continue longer-term strategic planning.