Lockheed Martin has recently unveiled – Segmented Planar Imaging Detector for Electro-optical Reconnaissance (SPIDER) that may transform the telescope as we know it.
The technology is based on the technique of interferometry that uses a thin array of tiny lenses to collect light instead of the large bulky lenses used in existing telescope technology. SPIDER imaging technology has the potential to lead to smaller, more powerful telescopes.
Telescopes enable modern day astronomers to accomplish incredible feats like view objects that are billions of miles away, in vivid detail. The only drawback however, is the physical size of these devices. While the kind of telescope that’s in every university science class might be portable enough, this isn’t the case for ones used by space agencies. The need for a telescope that’s capable of producing high resolution images, from quite a distance away comes at the cost of weight and size. Not to mention the actual financial burden that comes with placing such an object in outer space.
Through years of dedicated research, scientists at Lockheed Martin have been able to come up with a solution to this problem in the form of SPIDER, an acronym for Segmented Planar Imaging Detector for Electro-optical Reconnaissance. While the title may carry a fair bit of weight, the end result is the complete opposite. SPIDER can reduce the size and power needs of a traditional telescope by 10 to 100 times. It does so by utilizing thousands of tiny lenses that link together with silicon-chip photonic integrated circuits, (PICs) to produce an image. SPIDER’s benefits aren’t all about size however, as it can be manufactured in a matter of weeks as opposed to years for a conventional telescope. It’s energy and cost efficient and, best of all, has multiple potential uses. From safety sensors for automobiles, to reconnaissance and targeting instruments for defense forces, SPIDER can do it all.