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Waspie_Dwarf

First Folding Space Telescope [merged]

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First Folding Space Telescope Aims to “Break the Glass Ceiling” of Traditional Designs

MOIRE program creates first-ever images using lightweight membrane optics, which could help redefine how we build, launch and use orbital telescopes

The capability of orbital telescopes to see wide swaths of the earth at a time has made them indispensable for key national security responsibilities such as weather forecasting, reconnaissance and disaster response. Even as telescope design has advanced, however, one aspect has remained constant since Galileo: using glass for lenses and mirrors, also known as optics. High-resolution imagery traditionally has required large-diameter glass mirrors, which are thick, heavy, difficult to make and expensive. As the need for higher-resolution orbital imagery expands, glass mirrors are fast approaching the point where they will be too large, heavy and costly for even the largest of today’s rockets to carry to orbit.

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DARPA MOIRE Concept Video

As the need for higher-resolution orbital imagery expands, glass mirrors are fast approaching the point where they will be too large, heavy and costly for even the largest of today's rockets to carry to orbit. DARPA's Membrane Optical Imager for Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE) program seeks to address these challenges by developing technologies that would make orbital telescopes much lighter, more transportable and more cost-effective. Currently in its second and final phase, the program recently successfully demonstrated a ground-based prototype that incorporated several critical technologies, including new lightweight polymer membrane optics to replace glass mirrors.

Instead of reflecting light with mirrors or refracting it with lenses, MOIRE's membrane optics diffract light. Roughly the thickness of household plastic wrap, each membrane serves as a Fresnel lens—it is etched with circular concentric grooves like microscopically thin tree rings. The diffractive pattern focuses light on a sensor that the satellite translates into an image.

MOIRE technology houses the membranes in thin metal "petals" that would launch in a tightly packed configuration roughly 20 feet in diameter. Upon reaching its destination orbit, a satellite would then unfold the petals to create the full-size multi-lens optics. The envisioned diameter of 20 meters (about 68 feet) would be the largest telescope optics ever made and dwarf the glass mirrors contained in the world's most famous telescopes.

Credit: DARPA

Source: DARPA - YouTube Channel

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I just read about this in the Daily Mail

King of spy satellites: Huge 68ft device that will record zoom-able HD video of 40% of Earth's the surface SIMULTANEOUSLY

* Membrane Optical Imager for Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE) uses a massive web of thin membranes instead of heavy lenses

* It is being developed by Pentagon's DARPA future weapons agency

* Satellite will have 68-foot lens - dwarfing Hubble, which is only eight feet

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2521162/Pentagon-designing-massive-king-spy-satellites-record-video-40percent-surface-Earth-once.html#ixzz2n3rEFLU8

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From the article:

The Pentagon has designed a massive spy satellite that will dwarf any space telescope ever launched - and it point its sensitive lens back at us.

The Membrane Optical Imager for Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE) will be capable of capturing 40percent of the surface of the Earth at once. It will be able to beam back real-time high-resolution video and images from anywhere in the world at any time.

The satellite is the brainchild of DARPA, the Pentagon agency tasked with developing the next generation of weapons and technology for the U.S. military.

Article

Edited by OverSword

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Can capture 40% of the Earth's surface at once with real-time HD video and images :passifier:

Holy moly...what kind of future are we headed towards?

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:hmm: No more naked sunbathing for me then.
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you know they are looking, make them see what they want to see.

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Can capture 40% of the Earth's surface at once with real-time HD video and images :passifier:

Holy moly...what kind of future are we headed towards?

It isn't so surprising I guess... I remember reading as a kid about the Yom Kippur war and we had satellite imaging then that could read the time on an Israeli captain's watch. 40 years later? Oh my...

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That is definetly some impressive tech. Why does the pentagon need this again? I mean I get why they want it, but why do they need it? Do they need it?

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First Folding Space Telescope Aims to “Break the Glass Ceiling” of Traditional Designs

Hey Waspie, do we know what the geometric resolution of this thing will be?

I can't imagine it would be very high in '40% of earth surface HD video mode', but if they use it to take a shot of a specific area?

And do you know what the highest resolution has been? Wiki only mentions the GeoEye 1 with .41m currently, as well as early military at .30m in the past.

Edit: I just read the whole article: 'The satellite would be able to focus on a 10 km-by-10 km area at 1-meter resolution, and provide real-time video at 1 frame per second.'

Surely it can focus more than that? But that's still pretty impressive - A 100 megapixel 1FPS real time stream of a 10km area!

Edited by Timonthy

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Surely it can do more than that?

Remember this is the unclassified/civilian version that the information is being released about. The resolution of military spy satellites is classified, but it is rumoured that they can image the headlines on a newspaper from 200 miles up.

This may not just be about improving resolution however. It maybe about achieving the same resolution at far lower cost. If the satellites cost half as much you can have twice as many. The resolution may not improve but the global coverage will be doubled (or, put another way, response time halved).

The National Reconnaissance Office has overseen a bit of a debacle in recent years. They spent billions on a new generation of spy satellites. Called the Future Imagery Architecture programme it ran hugely over budget and behind schedule. Whilst the radar imaging satellites survived (the are code named Topaz) the optical satellites were cancelled (you may remember that the NRO gifted NASA 2 Hubble class space telescopes... that's where they came from).

This could be a way of ensuring that the NRO does not have the same problems again.

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