June 05, 2013

Technology for 77 meter primary mirror ground based telescope exists today and it could survey earth sized exoplanets out to 60 light years

The technology exists to develop a ground based telescope with a 77 meter (250 foot) mirror at lower cost if it is used for narrow field study. It could do a survey of earth sized planets out to 60 light years The Colossus Telescope, a high-resolution, 77-meter multiple-mirror giant instrument, will have the ability to directly image the heat generated by other civilizations on planets orbiting stars near us.

Innovative Optics, Ltd. offers proprietary solutions that will reduce the production cost of large optics by 10 to 20 times – and the production time by a significantly greater factor – compared with current techniques.

* Production cost per square meter of a Live Mirror drops to less than $20,000, letting IO undercut competitors while still realizing a significant profit margin in a market that currently pays more than $400,000 per square meter for a traditional mirror.

* Production time for a Live Mirror is as little as 1/60th the time required for a conventional mirror; an 8-meter optic, for example, can be produced by IO technology in approximately one to two months, compared with up to 5 years by other methods.

* Furthermore, IO techniques reduce the weight of precision mirrors from 500 kilograms per square meter to 70 kiloggrams per square meter or less, allowing much larger optical telescope systems to be built at a much lower cost.

Centauri Dreams had coverage

Earth’s current terrestrial power production is 15 terawatts, which turns out to be 0.04 percent of the total solar power received on Earth from the Sun. The authors designate the ratio of a civilization’s power production to the amount of solar power it receives as Ω. The article points out that the total power used by photosynthesis on Earth is 0.2 percent of the total light falling on the planet from the Sun.

A very large and sensitive infrared telescope could detect the increased waste heat production of a technologically advanced civilization.

Innovative Optics has proprietary processes that drastically reduce the time and cost of production of precision optics. Their optics are produced by fire polishing flat glass (which avoids time-consuming abrasion techniques and leaves a smoother, optically-superior mirror surface), then “slumping” the hot glass under controlled conditions to the desired final shape; no grinding or rough polishing step is required.

They go on to describe what they call ‘Live Mirror’ technologies that provide the adaptive optics needed to eliminate atmospheric distortion. Innovative Optics claims its mirrors can be very thin (2.5 cm thick for an 8-meter diameter Live Mirror) and therefore lightweight, at roughly 70 kg per square meter of surface area, a significant reduction over conventional mirrors. Colossus is envisioned as comprising approximately sixty of these 8-meter mirror segments, with a field of view that would take in only a few arcseconds of the sky at any time, allowing the designers to optimize for star-like sources even as the design holds down costs.

While traditional methods require thick glass to be used to maintain a mirror’s required shape, the IO Live Mirror instead uses an array of two-way computerized actuators (bi-pods) attached to the back of the IO mirror in order to dynamically maintain an optimal mirror shape under changing viewing conditions (a technique we have dubbed “electronic polishing”).

This proprietary dynamic adjustment technique permits our Live Mirror to be very thin (e.g. only 2.5cm thick for an 8m diameter Live Mirror, compared to approximately 250cm thick for a traditional mirror) and lightweight (only 70kg per sq/m of surface area, where a traditional mirror would be 500kg or more per sq/m of surface area).

Any required fine polishing is completed using our proprietary dynamic “zero-force” polishing technology (DZFP), which uses controlled jets of water to polish the glass surface, significantly improving results and reducing polishing time. The IO team refers to this technology as HyDRa: Hydrodynamic Radial Polishing Tool.

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