Artist's concept of the foldable plastic telescope
Concept of a space-based polymer telescope
Optical membrane showing diffraction pattern
Section of the MOIRE membrane optic
Size comparison of the foldable optic and conventional telescope mirrors
DARPA has announced planes to use a foldable plastic lens to “break the glass ceiling” of space telescopes. It’s part of the agency’s Membrane Optical Imager for Real-Time Exploitation (MOIRE) program, which aims at replacing conventional glass optics with lightweight polymer membranes that may one day make possible a foldable plastic orbital telescope 20 m (65 ft) wide that will be capable of seeing a medium-sized dog on Earth from 36,000 km (22,000 mi) away.
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