OSA's Digital Library

Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 57, Iss. 7 — Jul. 1, 1967
  • pp: 901–912

Thermal Deformations in a Satellite Telescope Mirror

LYMAN SPITZER, JR. and BRUNO A. BOLEY  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA, Vol. 57, Issue 7, pp. 901-912 (1967)

View Full Text Article

Acrobat PDF (1477 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



Basic thermal perturbations are considered for a fused-silica primary mirror in an orbiting space telescope within 800 km of the earth’s surface. In such an orbit, the change of thermal environment with pointing direction leads almost inevitably to an axial temperature gradient dT/dz through the primary mirror, and to a consequent bending of the mirror and a change ΔF of focal length. If ΔF is constant across the mirror to within about ±3ƒ2λ, where ƒ is the focal ratio and λ the wavelength, the rms deviation of the mirror surface from a paraboloid will not exceed λ/50, and diffraction-limited performance is possible. Nonuniformities of ΔF can result either from lateral changes of dT/dz across the face of the mirror or from axial changes of dT/dz, i.e., from nonlinear gradients. A numerical analysis of the radiation transfer in the telescope tube, when this is illuminated from one side, shows that even in the unfavorable case of a two-dimensional telescope the lateral variation of dT/dz can be kept sufficiently small if the telescope tube is substantially longer than the mirror diameter, and if the sunlit earth does not shine directly on the mirror at any time. Analysis of the thermal distortion near the edge of a flat disk subject to a nonlinear axial gradient and of a spherical cap subject to a radial gradient dT/dR indicates that the likely distortions are certainly within optical tolerance for a 1-m telescope and probably also for a 3-m telescope. Deviations from uniformity resulting from the mirror supports or from inhomogeneities in the mirror itself are not considered.

LYMAN SPITZER, JR. and BRUNO A. BOLEY, "Thermal Deformations in a Satellite Telescope Mirror," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 57, 901-912 (1967)

Sort:  Author  |  Journal  |  Reset


  1. L. Berkner and H. Odishaw, Eds., Science in Space (McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1961); Report of Iowa Space Study Group, 1963 (National Academy of Science) ; Report of Woods Hole Space Study Group, 1966 (National Academy of Science).
  2. L. Spitzer, Jr., Astron. J. 65, 242 (1960).
  3. B. A. Boley and J. H. Weiner, Theory of Thermal Stresses (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1960).
  4. R. M. Scott, Appl. Opt. 1, 387 (1962).
  5. We are indebted toD. Markle of the Perkin-Elmer Corp. for this result.
  6. We are grateful to C. Smith and Mrs. H. Selberg at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory for programming and executing these calculations.
  7. M. Picone, Math. Ann. 101, 701 (1929).
  8. F. Timoshenko and F. Woinowski-Krieger, Theory of Plates and Shells (McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1959).

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited