Robert Smith is a professor at the University of Alberta and historian to JWST since 2002

James Webb: An optical success story

As James Webb Space Telescope beams back images from the edge of space and time, space historian Robert Smith recalls some of the decisions made to bring the $10bn NASA project to fruition. David Stuart reports

(a) FAST’s optical geometry (b) Automated optical inspection of FAST (c) Illustration of surface defects (dent and hole) (d) Results of defect detection. (Image: Li et al.)

Drones to automate inspection of Chinese radio telescope

Drones equipped with high-resolution RGB cameras and deep-learning techniques are searching for defects on the Chinese FAST telescope

The nulling interferometry devices under development at Caltech’s Exoplanet Technology Laboratory cancel out starlight to help detect and identify foreign worlds. (Credit: Shutterstock/Dotted Yeti)

Emerging astrophotonics technologies

Nemanja Jovanovic, lead instrument scientist at Caltech’s Optical Observatory and Exoplanet Technology Laboratory, on emerging astrophotonic technologies on his radar

Shining a light on intensified imaging

Keely Portway investigates how the latest developments in specialised intensifier cameras have allowed opportunities for a number of exciting specialist applications in low-light scenarios

Image intensifiers help to increase the intensity of the available light in a system, which allows better image reproduction in low-light scenarios. This specialist technology is used in a range of applications, including biotechnology, industry, research and astronomy. 

Ning Wang, the study’s lead author, and Professor Mona Jarrahi working on the terahertz detector setup. (Image: UCLA Engineering)

New terahertz detector could observe galaxies in unprecedented detail

Researchers have developed an ultra-sensitive light-detecting system that could enable astronomers to view galaxies, stars and planetary systems in unprecedented detail

Optical Metrology for Large Space and Terrestrial Telescope Optics

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Measurement of large optics require metrology systems that can function despite vibration, turbulence and other challenges.Laser interferometry is used throughout the manufacturing of large optics to ensure conformance to demanding design specificationsMore recently, “dynamic interferometry” has been implemented for vibration-insensitive measurement of large optics.

Searching in the dark

Jessica Rowbury looks at the latest research in the hunt for dark matter, one of the biggest mysteries in physics 


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