Boston Micromachines awarded NASA grant for exoplanet imaging

May 22, 2013
Cambridge, MA--BMC was awarded a contract for more than $500K from NASA's ROSES Technology Development for Exoplanet Missions towards detection and characterization of Earth-like planets around nearby stars.

Cambridge, MA--Boston Micromachines Corporation (BMC), a leading provider of MEMS-based deformable mirror (DM) products and adaptive optics systems (, announced today that it has been awarded a contract for over $500,000 from NASA's ROSES Technology Development for Exoplanet Missions (TDEM), a component of NASA's solicitation on Strategic Astrophysics Technology (SAT).

The TDEM program supports NASA's goal to directly detect and characterize Earth-like planets around nearby stars and to search for signs of habitability and life. DMs play a key role in space-based imaging as they are used to correct the residual aberrations that space telescope optics cannot address. This grant will allow BMC to advance the technology readiness of its MEMS DM technology and demonstrate the capacity of the MEMS DMs to survive dynamic mechanical environmental stresses associated with launch and deployment in space.

BMC MEMS DMs will be fabricated and tested for use in the project. The components will be evaluated at BMC and in two existing coronagraph testbeds including Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Princeton University.

"The weight and peak power consumption of our DMS are each less than one tenth of a conventional system and the cost is considerably lower. These advantages will help reduce the cost of future exoplanet missions," said Paul Bierden, president of Boston Micromachines Corporation. "We are pleased that NASA continues to support our mirror technology and its role as one of the key technologies for future flight hardware that supports exoplanet direct detection."

Founded in 1999, Boston Micromachines Corporation (BMC) provides microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-based mirror products and adaptive optics systems. By applying wavefront correction to produce high resolution images, BMC devices can be used for imaging biological tissue and the human retina and to enhance images blurred by the earth's atmosphere. The company's suite of compact deformable mirror (DM) products drive scientific discovery in astronomy, laser beam shaping, microscopy, vision science, and support a variety of defense applications. Customers include NASA, UC Berkeley, Oxford University, Lockheed Martin, and Boston University.

SOURCE: Boston Micromachines;

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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