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SPIDER shrinks telescopes with far-out design

Telescopes could be smaller, lighter and less power hungry

By
2:00pm, July 25, 2016
illustration of SPIDER scope

BIG DREAMS FOR SMALL SCOPE  Lockheed Martin imagines a relatively small and light advanced SPIDER telescope with thousands of tiny lenses on one face of a surveillance orbiter.

In the space business, weight and size are what run up the bills. So imagine the appeal of a telescope that’s a tenth to as little as a hundredth as heavy, bulky and power hungry as the conventional instruments that NASA and other government agencies now send into space. Especially alluring is the notion of marrying the time-tested technology called interferometry, used in traditional observatories, with the new industrial field of photonics and its almost unimaginably tiny optical circuits.

Say hello to SPIDER, or Segmented Planar Imaging Detector for Electro-optical Reconnaissance.

Some doubt it will ever work.

But its inventors believe that, once demonstrated at full-scale, SPIDER will replace standard telescopes and long-range cameras in settings where room is scarce, such as on planetary probes and reconnaissance satellites.

Researchers at

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