Boston Micromachines Technology Supports Nasa’s Search for Extra-Solar Planets
NASA Selects Boston Micromachines for Phase 2 SBIR
Watertown, Mass., October 31, 2006 — Boston Micromachines Corporation, a leading provider of MEMS-based deformable mirror products for adaptive optics systems, today announced that its technology continues to support NASA’s multi-pronged approach in the search for extra-solar planets. Boston Micromachines has been selected by NASA for a Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award of approximately $600,000.
“As part of the president’s new vision for space exploration, NASA has embarked on a bold new series of missions to find and characterize new worlds in our galaxy and beyond. We are pleased to be playing a role in our nation's search for extra-solar planets. And we look forward to our continued work in supporting NASA in its various space discovery missions," said Paul Bierden, president and CEO of Boston Micromachines. “Our mirrors again have demonstrated their technical merit, innovation and value to NASA.”
The new mirror will comprise of a micromirror array consisting of 331 closely-packed ultra-flat hexagonal mirror elements, each capable of tip, tilt, and piston motion with nanometer precision as required for a space-based hyper-contrast coronagraph imaging telescope. Such an array of mirror segments would constitute a significant technological advance.
Boston Micromachines new mirror will become an enabling component for the visible nulling coronagraph instruments planned for NASA’s Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) mission which will study all aspects of planets outside our solar system. The new mirror will also have an application for the proposed Extrasolar Planet Imaging Coronograph (EPIC) Discovery Mission.
In addition, the technology developed in this program will allow the future development of deformable mirrors for non-NASA applications as well. Ultra-flat highly reflective mirror surfaces are required for a number of commercial applications. Examples of these applications include high energy lasers correction and optical lithography.
The SBIR program provides an opportunity for small, high technology companies and research institutions to participate in government sponsored research and development efforts in key technology areas. The program is managed at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., with executive oversight by NASA Headquarters, Washington. Individual projects are managed by NASA's 10 field installations.