MEMS deformable mirror grant from NASA awarded to BMC for exoplanet imaging

Cambridge, MA--Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-based deformable mirror (DM) products and adaptive optics systems provider Boston Micromachines Corporation (BMC) was awarded a Phase II contract for $750,000 by NASA's Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) to support NASA's Exoplanet Exploration program. The Phase II contract was awarded after BMC successfully completed its Phase I project and will expand upon those results of increased reliability.

One of NASA's core objectives is to search for earth-sized planets outside of our solar system, called exoplanets. Deformable mirros play a key role in space-based imaging as they are used to correct the residual aberrations that space telescope optics cannot address. Instruments in space-based imaging have unique reliability challenges due to the harsh environment in which they operate; DMs are subject to ionizing radiation which can cause instability in the voltages that drive the DM. This grant will enable Boston Micromachines to construct a 2048 actuator, continuous facesheet MEMS DM with enhanced reliability to handle the harsh environments, advancing the development of space-based high contrast imaging instruments. 

"Boston Micromachines' MEMS DMs have enabled great performance and operation in high contrast imaging testbeds. This new program will demonstrate the ability of our devices to operate reliably in unstable environments similar to those in space," said Paul Bierden, president and co-founder of Boston Micromachines. "We are pleased that NASA continues to value and support our mirror technology for its future missions in the study of earth-like planets."

SOURCE: Boston Micromachines; www.bostonmicromachines.com/press_nasa_reliability.htm

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