NASA selects Boston Micromachines for space mirror

WATERTOWN, Mass., 28 Nov. 2005. Boston Micromachines Corp. today announced that it has been selected by NASA for a Phase 2 contract. NASA's Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) awarded Boston Micromachines a $600,000 contract to develop a deformable mirror suitable for space-based operation in systems for high-resolution imaging.

WATERTOWN, Mass., 28 Nov. 2005. Boston Micromachines Corp. today announced that it has been selected by NASA for a Phase 2 contract. NASA's Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) awarded Boston Micromachines a $600,000 contract to develop a deformable mirror suitable for space-based operation in systems for high-resolution imaging.

This deformable mirror will be fabricated through an innovative combination of MEMS fabrication techniques using single crystal silicon for all structural components. This mirror promises the unprecedented precision, thermal stability and optical quality required for space-based operation. The eventual application of this mirror is to operate in space as part of a future observatory mission for the detection of planets in other solar systems.

The successful "proof-of-principle" mirror that was achieved in a Phase 1 contract, led to the issuing of the Phase 2 contract. In this round of SBIR, NASA evaluated 273 proposals submitted by U.S. owned small businesses. These Phase 2 contracts continue development of only the most promising Phase 1 projects.

"We are pleased that NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has chosen to expand its investment in our technology," said Paul Bierden, president and CEO of Boston Micromachines. "Phase 1 of this project has proven the scientific and technical merit of our high-performance deformable micromirror technology within this highly competitive process."

Boston Micromachines and NASA have additional projects underway. Boston Micromachines is providing a high-resolution MEMS deformable mirror for a NASA-sponsored space exploration project led by Boston University. The project, Planet Imaging Concept Testbed Using a Rocket Experiment (PICTURE), mission's objective is to obtain a direct image of an extrasolar giant planet. Its telescope, which uses Boston Micromachines' MEMS mirror for wavefront control, will be launched from White Sands, NM, aboard a NASA sounding rocket in early 2007. This will be the first-ever use of a MEMS deformable mirror in space.

Founded in 1999, Boston Micromachines Corp. (BMC) is the leading provider of advanced microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-based mirror products for use in commercial adaptive optics systems, applying wavefront correction to produce high resolution images of the human retina and enhance images blurred by the Earth's atmosphere.

The company's suite of compact deformable mirror (DM) products are the most cost-effective, highest performance mirrors in the market today. They are widely used in vision science applications such as advanced optic retinal imaging, long range laser communications, and astronomy, including NASA's search for planets in other solar systems.

Customers include leading manufacturers of optical imaging and communication systems, governmental agencies and contractors, and vision science research laboratories worldwide, including NASA, UCal Berkeley, Lockheed Martin and Boston University. Located in Watertown, Mass, BMC is privately held and also offers custom designed manufacturing services. For more information, see www.bostonmicromachines.com.

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