https://www.epo.org/en/node/space-observation

Space observation

Decorative image

Space observation technologies encompass a diverse array of instruments designed to explore the universe beyond Earth's atmosphere. Optical telescopes utilise lenses or mirrors to capture and focus visible light, revealing intricate details of celestial objects such as stars, galaxies and nebulae. Radio telescopes detect and analyse radio waves emitted by cosmic sources, offering insights into phenomena invisible to the human eye, including pulsars, quasars and the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Optical telescopes

Optical/ground-based/astronomical telescopes include extremely large and very large telescopes. Aspects of optical and mechanical design of ground-based telescopes are used to observe artificial and natural celestial bodies.

Optical telescope mirrors

Specifically related to primary and secondary mirrors for ground-based telescopes, focusing on mirrors with a single reflecting layer and multilayer mirrors with two or more reflecting layers. Mirrors with reflecting layers comprise dielectric materials or single or multiple metallic layers.

Segmented

Design of segmented mirrors for telescope applications. Methods and apparatus relating to reflecting light incident on segmented primary mirrors. Rotation, translation and alignment of individual segments.

Segmented

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Continuous face

Design of large aperture mirrors for telescope applications.

Continuous face

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Mirror manufacturing - polishing

Methods and apparatus for polishing optical surfaces such as mirrors for astronomical telescopes. Techniques used for shaping, numerically controlled grinding and polishing.

Mirror manufacturing - polishing

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Mirror testing

Methods for testing geometric parameters of large aperture mirrors such as the gravity unloading method, zero compensation method, Hindle method, computational holographic method and the sub-aperture stitching method.

Mirror testing

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Mirror cleaning

Cleaning apparatus capable of cleaning large diameter mirrors, including defrosting snow on a glass mirror surface especially in a low temperature environment.

Mirror cleaning

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Optomechanical mounts for optical telescopes

Mountings, adjusting means or light-tight connections for mirrors especially adapted for very large mirrors.

Optomechanical mounts

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Telescope instrumentation active optics

Active optics systems designed to maintain good surface shape of the primary mirror during use of the telescope and ensure quality of back-end imaging.

Active optics

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Telescope instrumentation adaptive optics

Adaptive optics (AO) for astronomical applications enable ground-based, large aperture telescopes to obtain near diffraction limit resolution by detecting and correcting wavefront distortion caused by atmospheric turbulence.

Deformable mirrors

Deformable mirrors as wavefront correction units in adaptive optics systems compensate for distorted wavefronts caused by atmospheric turbulence, thermal halos etc.

Deformable mirrors

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Wavefront sensing

Wavefront sensors used in AO systems detect distortion phase information of dynamic incident wavefronts in real time.

Wavefront sensing

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Laser guide stars for AO

Technology relating to laser guided star launch systems including sodium beacon lasers exciting sodium atoms in the atmosphere to produce a high brightness sodium guide star. They are used to detect wavefront distortion caused by atmospheric disturbances and correct it through the adaptive optical system, thereby significantly improving imaging resolution of ground-based optical telescopes.

Laser guide stars for AO

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Adaptive optics systems for astronomical applications

Adaptive Optics (AO) for astronomical applications enabling ground-based large-aperture telescopes to obtain near-diffraction-limit resolution by detecting and correcting wavefront distortion caused by atmospheric turbulence.

Adaptive optics systems for astronomical applications

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Telescope instrumentation spectrometry

All applications relating to spectroscopy in astronomical applications including obtaining the spectrum of celestial bodies. This query searches for the terms spectrometers, spectrophotometers and spectrographs.

Spectrometry

Spectrometry

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Interferometric spectrometry

By correlation of amplitudes, devices without moving parts; devices of compact or symmetric construction; devices with a moving mirror; devices with a refractive scan; Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy.

Interferometric spectrometry

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Diffraction gratings for spectrometers

Diffraction gratings used as wavelength dispersing devices for spatially separating spectral components of light for subsequent measurements in spectroscopy.

Diffraction gratings for spectrometers

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Telescope instrumentation imaging

Technologies aimed at capturing high-resolution images of celestial objects with detail and precision.

Telescope imaging systems

Aspects of imaging systems in optical telescopes including optical design, high-resolution and full-band imaging.

Telescope imaging systems

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Interferometric imaging

Interferometric imaging techniques such as optical synthetic aperture imaging.

Interferometric imaging

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Curved detectors

Technology relating to curved detectors for reducing aberrations in imaging systems.

Curved detectors

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Freeform optics

Design of freeform optics and application to imaging systems (not limited to astronomical applications).

Freeform optics

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Radio telescopes

Radio telescopes are antennas designed to perform space observation detecting radio waves emitted from astronomical objects. The most common architectures include large reflectors and arrays and are implemented as ground-based stations or onboard a spacecraft. Supporting structures and characteristics of the antenna are important factors in influencing the performance of signals arriving at the receiver.

Reflector

Single reflector architectures for radio telescopes comprise a single reflector illuminated by a feed connected to a receiver; only one surface is manufactured but often presents blockage problems. Dual reflector architectures for radio telescopes comprise multiple reflectors illuminated by a feed connected to a receiver; typical architectures are Cassegrain or Gregorian. Multiple surfaces are manufactured but cross polarisation performances are superior to single reflector architectures and the feed is easier to access.

Single reflector

Single reflector

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Dual reflector

Dual reflector

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Reflector – adjustable shape

Reflectors for radio telescopes with an adjustable shape comprise reflectors that can be locally modified to account for specific design or performance constraints. Reflector modification can occur in real time or in the design stage.

Reflector – adjustable shape

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Reflector – divided in panels

Reflectors for radio telescopes segmented in a plurality of parts comprise reflectors made of separate parts: such solution simplifies manufacturing and assembly of large structures.

Reflector – divided in panels

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Supports

Supports for radio telescope reflectors comprise structures supporting the reflector, which are not normally in the field of view of the radio telescope, and structures supporting sub reflectors, which are often in the field of view of the radio telescope.

Supports for radio telescope feeds comprise structures supporting the feed, which are often in the field of view of the radio telescope: examples of such structures are struts, chains and generic supports.

Supports for reflectors

Supports for reflectors

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Supports for feeds

Supports for feeds

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Movement

Radio telescopes have an architecture where the whole system or parts of it could be repositioned in space to point in a different direction. It includes configurations where the reflector remains fixed, whereas the feed can be repositioned in space to point in a different direction, or where the feed remains fixed, whereas the reflector can be repositioned in space to point in a different direction.

Two axis mechanical movement of whole system

Two axis mechanical movement of whole system

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Movable feed, fixed reflector

Movable feed, fixed reflector

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Movable reflector, fixed feed

Movable reflector, fixed feed

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Feeds

Feeds for radio telescopes reflectors include horns, i.e. tapered waveguides, or phased arrays, i.e. arrays of radiating elements where the input/output of the feeds are combined via a phasing network, used as feeds for radio telescope reflectors.

Horns

Horns

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Phased arrays

Phased arrays

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Reduction of undesired effects

Mitigation solution to reduce edge scattering, aperture blockage, feed spillover and polarisation mismatch in reflector architectures for radio telescopes.

Reduction of undesired effects – including edge scattering, aperture, blockage, feed spillover, polarisation mismatch

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Direct radiating arrays

Arrays of radiating elements for radio telescopes operating without the presence of a reflector and also including direct radiating phased arrays.

Direct radiating arrays

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