A symposium to share information about government-funded space optics work – with
the goal of getting the best return on government technology investments – will
be held Sept. 16-18, in Huntsville, Ala.

Sponsored by the University of Alabama in Huntsville Center for Applied Optics
and organized by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, "Mirror
Technology Days" will be held in the university’s Chan Auditorium.

At least 150 participants are expected for the three-day conference, where
more than 75 presenters will summarize work being done in mirror technology
Symposium participants will include representatives from government, government
contractors, and universities involved in government-funded optics work.

"The event will facilitate communication among various organizations,
to better determine what others are doing in the area of space optics," said
Phil Stahl, technical lead for Marshall space optics technology efforts. "We
want to build on knowledge already out there and coordinate our activities," Stahl

The government is investing in mirror technology to enable a wide range of
future space telescopes, Stahl said. Larger telescope mirrors must be lighter
and stiffer, and they must be easier to manufacture to bring costs down.

"Mirrors are a critical component in large space telescopes such as the
Hubble and its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope," said Stahl. "Telescopes
of the future require ever larger mirrors that allow us to see further back
in time – toward the beginning of the universe – and provide higher
quality images with finer detail."

The Marshall Center, with more than 30 years of experience on sophisticated
optical systems for space exploration, has developed several of the world’s
largest space-based
observatories for NASA, including Skylab’s Apollo Telescope Mount, the Hubble
Space Telescope, and the world’s most powerful X-ray telescope, the Chandra
X-ray Observatory.

Marshall, with help from the UAH Center for Applied Optics, recently completed
tests on two mirror technology candidates for the James Webb Space Telescope – one
beryllium and one ultra-low-expansion glass. The beryllium candidate was selected
as the mirror material for the James Webb Space Telescope, successor to the
Hubble Space Telescope. Ball Aerospace & Technology Corporation, Boulder
Colo., will build the segmented, beryllium-based optic for the telescope’s
6.5-meter primary mirror. Once built, the mirror segments will be incorporated
into optical assemblies and subjected to further tests at Marshall.

The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Center for Applied Optics was part
of the mirror testing team for the Webb Telescope mirror candidates. The center
was responsible for building optical instrumentation pallets used for cryo-vac
testing, performing alignments and mirror surface measurements, and performing
data reduction and analysis used to select the winning mirror technology.

The conference is being supported by Small Business Innovation Research.

For more information visit: http://optics.nasa.gov/