Adaptive Optics Associates, Inc., a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman , has been awarded a sole-source contract to provide mission-critical optical technology for the WFIRST coronagraph instrument.
The AOX team successfully completed the preliminary design studies in early 2016 with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology.
WFIRST is a future infrared space observatory that was recommended in 2010 by United States National Research Council Decadal Survey committee as the top priority for the next decade of astronomy. The WFIRST telescope will be equipped with a specialized optical-imaging coronagraph. The WFIRST coronagraph will have the potential to directly image exoplanets over the course of its mission because of AOX’s adaptive optics technology.
AOX will design and fabricate the integrated adaptive optics system, with world-class, ultra-reliable sub-angstrom precision motion. WFIRST’s coronagraph will provide a 1,000-fold improvement in existing technology to see distant planets in other solar systems. This advancement will help the scientific community with the study of the atmospheres and conditions on exoplanets using WFIRST and with future missions that will search for signs of life on exoplanets.
“We are honored to work with NASA, JPL, and the WFIRST team,” said M. Roman Hachkowski, Ph.D., general manager, AOX. “AOX’s adaptive optics technology will enable astronomers to directly image and study exoplanets. This capability is ideal for science space missions that require both precision and durability to advance human discovery.”
WFIRST is part of Northrop Grumman’s continued focus on space as the next frontier for exploration. A worldwide leader in developing new technology to support current and future military and civil space programs, Northrop Grumman’s innovation enables deep space discovery and advances knowledge of planet Earth.
AOX designs and manufactures mission critical optical and photonic solutions and serves markets worldwide including: defense (ISR, directed energy, laser communications), industrial (freight logistics, semiconductor) and scientific (astronomy). Since its inception, AOX has been ‘working light’ for the betterment of customers, national security and the advancement of humankind.