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Optimizing Freeform Optics

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Design and fabrication of unconventional optical surfaces are enabling novel imaging systems that have potential in astronomy and space imaging.

VALERIE C. COFFEY, SCIENCE WRITER

Astronomical imaging from both ground and space provides precise data, and each has its pros and cons. Ground-based observation benefits from flexible infrastructure with large telescopes and instruments but suffers from atmospheric turbulence and light pollution, whereas observation from space is free of turbulence, but the telescopes must meet onerous size, weight, and cost restrictions for launch. The size and weight of space telescopes continue growing while costs must be reduced.

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Published: August 2019
Glossary
freeform optics
Freeform optics refers to the design and fabrication of optical surfaces that do not follow traditional symmetric shapes, such as spheres or aspheres. Unlike standard optical components with symmetric and rotationally invariant surfaces, freeform optics feature non-rotationally symmetric and often complex surfaces. These surfaces can be tailored to meet specific optical requirements, offering greater flexibility in designing optical systems and achieving improved performance. Key points about...
freeform opticstelescopesasymmetric mirrorsoff-axis opticsaberrationsNASAGoddard Space Flight CenterJannick RollandCenter for Freeform OpticsCeFOoptical designAaron Bauerthree-mirror anastigmatTMAFeatures

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