A large (10's of meters) aperture space telescope including two separate spacecraft--an optical primary objective lens functioning as a magnifying glass and an optical secondary functioning as an eyepiece. The spacecraft are spaced up to several kilometers apart with the eyepiece directly behind the magnifying glass "aiming" at an intended target with their relative orientation determining the optical axis of the telescope and hence the targets being observed. The objective lens includes a very large-aperture, very-thin-membrane, diffractive lens, e.g., a Fresnel lens, which intercepts incoming light over its full aperture and focuses it towards the eyepiece. The eyepiece has a much smaller, meter-scale aperture and is designed to move along the focal surface of the objective lens, gathering up the incoming light and converting it to high quality images. The positions of the two space craft are controlled both to maintain a good optical focus and to point at desired targets which may be either earth bound or celestial.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT INTEREST
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California.