Membrane Optical Imager for Real-time Exploitation

Breaking the glass ceiling 

There’s a growing desire to learn more about the world and universe we live in. These new missions are often hampered by launch vehicle size, development time and cost issues related to aperture size.

That’s why we developed a revolutionary new way to construct very large aperture telescopes. Working under a 2010 contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), we designed, built and validated MOIRE, a technology that utilizes replicated diffractive optics.

Using a very thin transparent membrane, segments are etched with a diffraction pattern, the primary optical element used to focus light. This design can be rapidly manufactured, significantly reducing cost compared to reflective systems, and is extremely lightweight, enabling the use of existing launch vehicles.

Our game-changing approach allows the production of 20 meter-plus apertures that dwarf any space telescope currently under development – the James Webb Space Telescope, the largest telescope built to fly in space, is only 6.5 meters.
Engineers working on a petal of the MOIRE optics
Ball constructed this 45-degree segment of a five-meter-diameter annular segmented telescope.

What we did 

Telescope designer

As the prime contractor for the MOIRE program, we assembled a complete end-to-end demonstration telescope. The optical and imaging quality of the telescope was measured for a single panel with color correction over a narrow spectral bandwidth, showing the quality imaging capabilities of this new technology. The technology matured for the MOIRE program enables narrow-band, persistent, real-time video of areas on the Earth from geosynchronous orbit 22,000 miles above the surface.

Ball’s work on MOIRE draws on our experience designing, manufacturing and testing large optics for programs like the James Webb Space Telescope and Kepler

Technology applications 

From astrophysics to surveillance 

Do you need a satellite that can perform remote sensing for greenhouse gases? Or, high data rate communication links for planetary exploration? By using replicated diffractive optics, we can make even large aperture missions a success. Technology applications include persistent surveillance, long distance optical communications, Earth science and targeted astrophysics missions. This design can be used for many narrow spectral bandwidth applications.

Large diameter, lightweight aperture telescopes enable high-resolution, low-light science imagery at a reasonable mission cost. This enables MOIRE to perform exoplanet spectrometry missions, a follow on step for the Ball-led Kepler mission. 

A Revolutionary Way to Build Large Aperture Telescopes

Watch to learn how we developed a revolutionary new space telescope for intelligence and science applications.

Contact Ball

Ask us aboout our diffractive optics technology development.