Curved CCDs to Scan Earth's Orbit
Curved CCDs could improve the ability of telescopes to monitor and track debris and objects in geosynchronous orbit. A three-site deep-space surveillance constellation operated by the US Air Force already detects objects in space that are 10,000 times dimmer than the human eye can see. But a proposed $65 million demonstrator could include CCDs with curvature of a few hundred microns. This adaptation to the electro-optics could relax constraints on telescope design by accommodating wavefront curvature and could produce a system with enough sensitivity to detect and track micro satellites in a comparatively larger field of view.
During the next 18 months, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratories will fabricate and test curved CCDs in preparation for the demonstrator's first light, scheduled for 2008.
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