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Optimax in Space


Optimax is proud to have participated in many NASA programs. We have supplied NASA with high-quality imaging lenses designed for position sensing, mapping landforms, and optical analysis.

Pluto “New Horizons”: Voyage to Unexplored Planet

Optics for space, Pluto New Horizons, aerospace opticsThe New Horizons mission will help us understand worlds at the edge of our solar system by making the first reconnaissance of the dwarf planet Pluto and by venturing deeper into the distant, mysterious Kuiper Belt – a relic of solar system formation.

New Horizons launched on Jan. 19, 2006; it swung past Jupiter for a gravity boost and scientific studies in February 2007 and will conduct a five-month-long reconnaissance flyby study of Pluto and its moons in summer 2015. Pluto’s closest approach is scheduled for July 14, 2015. As part of an extended mission, the spacecraft is expected to head farther into the Kuiper Belt to examine one or two of the ancient, icy mini-worlds in that vast region, at least a billion miles beyond Neptune’s orbit.

Sending a spacecraft on this long journey will help us answer basic questions about the surface properties, geology, interior makeup and atmospheres on these bodies.

Optimax lenses are on-board the LORRI (Long Range Reconnaissance Imager) telescopic camera which will obtain data at long distances and map Pluto’s far side and provide high-resolution geologic data.

Mars Science Laboratory: “Curiosity”

Mars Science Laboratory is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. Launched on Nov. 26, 2011, 7:02 a.m. PST (10:02 a.m. EST). Mars Science Laboratory is a rover that will assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet’s “habitability.” To find out, the rover will carry the biggest, most advanced suite of instruments for scientific studies ever sent to the Martian surface. The rover will analyze dozens of samples scooped from the soil and drilled from rocks.

The record of the planet’s climate and geology is essentially “written in the rocks and soil” — in their formation, structure, and chemical composition. The rover’s onboard laboratory will study rocks, soils, and the local geologic setting in order to detect chemical building blocks of life (e.g., forms of carbon) on Mars and will assess what the martian environment was like in the past.

The Mars Science Laboratory landed in Gale Crater on August 5, 2012, at 10:31 p.m. PDT

Optimax optics made it possible for the Mars Rover to take its first images of Mars.

For more information about the landing of Curiosity check out NASA MSL’s, “7 Minutes of Terror”, which shows how Optimax lenses made this landing possible.