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Materion’s Role in Optical Filters for NASA Imagers

Upgrading Optics for Hubble Space Telescope

Since the original launch of Hubble Space Telescope in 1990, NASA engineers knew there would be a need for upgrades over time to extend its life. With camera and detector technologies improving at a rapid pace, many of the optical components would need to be replaced in order to fulfill the mission of obtaining high-quality images of stars, galaxies and other celestial bodies.

These optics upgrades would pose challenges to the company producing them. They would have to deal with requirements for very, very narrow-band filters as well as IR imaging filters that could function at low temperatures. The filters would also need to be applied all the way to the outer edges of the optic – something that had not been attempted before – to let in virtually every photon at the wavelengths they weren’t designed to block out.

After a competitive process, Materion Precision Optics was selected by NASA to tackle the demanding work of replacing some of Hubble’s original optics. The project presented new challenges to Materion, a company with a long track record of providing precise, custom optical devices for aerospace applications and a range of other industries. One exciting but difficult task was combining four filters on a single optical element, something which Materion hadn’t tested previous to Hubble.

Materion produced nearly 100 filters for the Wide-Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) and Wide-field Planetary Camera 3 (WFCP3) and later provided multispectral optical filters for the MAST Camera on Curiosity Rover. It has a long work relationship with NASA that continues today with filters for the Near Infrared Camera on Goddard’s James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch as Hubble’s successor in 2018. Click to read the complete article in NASA Spinoff 2017 about Materion’s role with optical filters for NASA. For information about Materion and its range of optical filters and capabilities, contact David Harrison, Business Development Manager, David.Harrison@Materion.com, Phone: 978.692.7513 or Mobile: 978.846.0997.