Massive telescopes that might be used for detecting and analyzing Earth-like planets in orbit round different stars or for peering again in time to look at the very early universe might not essentially need to be constructed and assembled on the bottom. Sooner or later, NASA might assemble them in house.
A NASA engineer was chosen for a flight alternative to point out that a sophisticated thin-film manufacturing approach known as atomic layer deposition, or ALD, might apply wavelength-specific reflective coatings onto a pattern in house—one of many first steps in finally realizing the imaginative and prescient of establishing and assembling giant telescopes in microgravity.
“We technologists assume next-generation telescopes bigger than 20 meters in diameter shall be constructed and assembled in orbit,” mentioned Vivek Dwivedi, an engineer at NASA’s Goddard Area Flight Middle in Greenbelt, Maryland, and an professional in ALD expertise. “As a substitute of producing the mirrors on the bottom, why not print them in house? However you do not have a telescope mirror until you coat it with a extremely reflective material. Our concept is to point out that we might coat an optic in house utilizing this method, which we have used on the bottom and perceive the processes,” Dwivedi mentioned.
He and his collaborator, College of Maryland professor Raymond Adomaitis, will now have an opportunity to display the idea in house for the primary time.
Blue Origin Suborbital Flight Take a look at
Lately, NASA’s Area Expertise Mission Directorate’s Flight Alternatives program chosen Dwivedi and Adomaitis to fly a football-sized ALD chamber aboard a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket. The launch will present three minutes of microgravity, lengthy sufficient for the automated payload to use a skinny movie of a widely known ALD materials, alumina, onto a two-inch silicon wafer. “Alumina is a bread-and-butter materials in ALD purposes,” Dwivedi mentioned. “It has been extensively researched.”
Generally utilized by trade, ALD entails putting a substrate or pattern inside an oven-like reactor chamber and pulsing various kinds of gases to create a easy, extremely uniform movie whose layers aren’t any thicker than a single atom.
ALD-coated Samples in Area
ALD may additionally have purposes for mud mitigation, one other problem NASA is working to resolve. Presently, ALD-coated samples are being uncovered to plasma from an experiment pallet aboard the Worldwide Area Station. Dwivedi and Goddard technologist Mark Hasegawa created these samples to check whether or not indium tin oxide—an efficient compound for dissipating electrical expenses—could be utilized to paints and different supplies to forestall lunar mud from adhering to rovers, devices, and spacesuits.
Mitigating the mud downside is taken into account one in all NASA’s thorniest challenges because the company plans to determine a sustainable presence on the Moon underneath the Artemis program.
For in-space manufacturing, ALD gives a definite benefit, Dwivedi mentioned. ALD chambers scale to any dimension and might constantly apply easy layers over very giant areas. “If we scaled a silicon wafer to the dimensions of the Washington metropolitan space and positioned it inside an ALD chamber, for instance, we might deposit a layer of fabric that various not more than 60 microns in thickness,” Dwivedi mentioned, illustrating the approach’s precision, which might be important for growing delicate optics.
Though Dwivedi and Adomaitis have constructed a number of ALD chambers utilizing Goddard Inside Analysis and Growth program funding, they’ve determined to fly a chamber made of economic off-the-shelf elements through the suborbital check flight.
Dwivedi mentioned he and Adomaitis conceived the concept about two years in the past. A Goddard colleague, Franklin Robinson, secured a check by way of Flight Alternatives additionally on a Blue Origin New Shepard rocket and proved a groundbreaking expertise for successfully cooling tightly packed instrument electronics.
“We labored very arduous to get this chance,” Dwivedi mentioned. We will not wait to get the payload launched to see how nicely this method works in space.”
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
NASA to display first in-space manufacturing for house mirrors (2020, May 8)
retrieved 8 May 2020
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