Economic Feasibility of a Siderostat-fed Liquid Mirror Telescope for Surveillance of Space


  1. Wallace, B.J.
Corporate Authors
Defence Research and Development Canada, Ottawa Research Centre, Ottawa ON (CAN)
A concept for a Siderostat-Fed Liquid Mirror Telescope (SF-LMT), intended for surveillance of space, is described and a rough order of magnitude cost estimate is calculated; the technical aspects of the system are not discussed as the purpose of the investigation is to determine whether such a system has compelling cost savings over conventional 4-10 meter-class astronomical telescopes. The SF-LMT concept is driven by the extremely low cost associated with LMTs, the cost savings associated with creating a large flat mirror out of a number of smaller segments, and the cost savings associated with polishing a flat mirror over a parabolic mirror. The siderostat system, consisting of two flat mirrors that make up the steerable fore-optics of the system, feeds light to the LMT for image formation. The cost estimate methodology is taken from the astronomical literature and is modified to account for the technologies described above. It is shown that the cost savings that arise from the use of the LMT for image formation are offset by the costs of the large siderostat mirrors. It is concluded that the technical risk coupled with the lack of a compelling financial advantage over conventional telescope designs argue against developing the SF-LMT concept further.

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space surveillance;space situational awareness;optics;telescopes
Report Number
DRDC-RDDC-2015-R041 — Scientific Report
Date of publication
20 Apr 2015
Number of Pages
Electronic Document(PDF)

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