Nanotechnology News | November 29, 2005
Boston Micromachines Deformable Mirrors Chosen for NASA Space Imaging Research
Boston Micromachines Corporation has announced that it has been selected by NASA for a Phase 2 contract. NASA's Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) awarded Boston Micromachines an approximately $600,000 contract to develop a deformable mirror suitable for space-based operation in systems for high- resolution imaging.
This deformable mirror will be fabricated through an innovative combination of MEMS fabrication techniques using single crystal silicon for all structural components. This mirror promises the unprecedented precision, thermal stability and optical quality required for space-based operation. The eventual application of this mirror is to operate in space as part of a future observatory mission for the detection of planets in other solar systems.
"We are pleased that NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has chosen to expand its investment in our technology," said Paul Bierden, president and CEO of Boston Micromachines. "Phase 1 of this project has proven the scientific and technical merit of our high-performance deformable micromirror technology within this highly competitive process."
The successful "proof-of-principle" mirror that was achieved in a Phase 1 contract, led to the issuing of the Phase 2 contract. In this round of SBIR, NASA evaluated 273 proposals submitted by U.S. owned small businesses. These Phase 2 contracts continue development of only the most promising Phase 1 projects.
Boston Micromachines and NASA have additional projects underway. Boston Micromachines is providing a high-resolution MEMS deformable mirror for a NASA-sponsored space exploration project led by Boston University. The project, Planet Imaging Concept Testbed Using a Rocket Experiment (PICTURE), mission's objective is to obtain a direct image of an extrasolar giant planet. Its telescope, which uses Boston Micromachines' MEMS mirror for wavefront control, will be launched from White Sands, NM, aboard a NASA sounding rocket in early 2007. This will be the first-ever use of a MEMS deformable mirror in space.