Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) Telescope Program at the Naval Research Laboratory
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC REMOTE SENSING DIV
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The Navy Prototype Optical Interferometer NPOI is actively involved in a program to upgrade its collection apertures from a few tens of centimeters to 1.4 meters. This will dramatically increase its light collection capabilities and thus improve the sensitivity from 6th to nearly 12th magnitude, opening up a much larger selection of observable stars. This program leverages the use of lightweight carbon fiber reinforced polymer CFRP for telescope construction, allowing each telescope to be moved from one location to another, providing a reconfigurable array of telescopes rather than a large number of fixed telescopes. There are several advantages to using CFRP as the construction material for telescopes, including an order of magnitude decrease in weight, which supports easier transportation from station to station on the array. As all components of the telescope, including optics, are constructed from composite materials having a low coefficient of thermal expansion, dimensional changes due to temperature variations can be minimized. A major benefit to this approach, which requires multiple, identical optical components, is that they are made from a single, high-precision tool, allowing a much shorter production cycle than traditional steel and glass telescopes and keeping all replicated components identical and interchangeable. Composite materials provide a structurally stiff and very durable telescope that has superior performance to glass in harsh environments such as space.
- Laminates and Composite Materials
- Optical Detection and Detectors