The astronaut on the private Ax-1 mission will soon test the process of creating a liquid telescope mirror in space. This is the method of designing lenses from polymers in the medium of microgravity. Ultimately, this kind of approach will allow for the creation of larger and more powerful, space telescopes.
On April 8, SpaceX and private company Axiom made history by launching the Ax-1, the first fully personal mission to the International Space Station. Its commander was none other than former NASA astronaut Michael Lopez-Alexria. He is accompanied by three passengers, Larry Connor, Mark Pathi and Aidan Stebe. Everyone came in a capsule Team Dragon Launched by the Falcon 9 rocket.
During their stay, which lasted ten days, these four team members, now considered astronauts, will carry out scientific research. One of these experiments will help NASA build space telescopes Bigger than ever.
Lenses from liquid polymers
The Liquid telescope test (FLUTE) A project designed to study the use of fluids to make telescopic lenses. On the ISS ship, Eytan Stibbe, an Ax-1 task specialist, will carry out an experiment to demonstrate the technology by creating. A lens from liquid polymers And curing it by ultraviolet light or temperature. Running this experiment on the ISS will allow the researcher to trust the microgravity that will help shape the lens.
The process is actually quite simple, like creating acrylic nails in a salon. In fact, the technique may be simpler than current lens manufacturing processes. “This method allows to completely avoid all mechanical processes such as grinding or polishing“Moran Bergovici, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Israel Institute of Technology.”Natural fluid physics does all the work for us. “
If the test is successful, that’s about it The first optical component created in space.
The research team, which includes scientists from NASA’s Ames Research Center, has already demonstrated the potential of technology on Earth, first simulated in a pool of water with a micro-gravity and then a parabolic plane for fifteen to twenty seconds. Then the Earth’s gravity came back into operation.