Wed, Apr 17, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Research center makes satellite-lens breakthrough

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The National Applied Research Laboratories’ (NARL) Instrument Technology Research Center yesterday marked another milestone when it announced an important breakthrough in producing large-diameter aspheric lenses for FORMOSAT 5.

The center said that large-diameter aspheric lenses are mostly used in aerospace technology, astronomical telescopes, semi-conductors or precision measuring equipment, and they are high-priced components manufactured under strict regulations for international trading.

The lenses must be able to endure the harsh environment in space, such as drastic temperature changes and harmful high-energy radiation, as well as violent shaking when a satellite is launched on top of a rocket.

They also have to fulfill high-resolution requirements to conduct detailed observations, so highly advanced technology is needed to manufacture the lenses, the center said.

A division chief at the center and project leader Hsu Wei-yao (許巍耀) said that large-diameter lenses can produce clearer images with higher precision, but the technological skills needed for manufacturing the lenses are highly advanced and have to be extremely precise.

These include ultra-precision measuring skills, ultra-precision polishing technologies, precise gripping designs and precise metallic-membrane plating skills.

In addition, giving an example of the lenses’ ultra-high resolution, the center said “it would not be a problem to clearly see an ant on the ground from the top of the Taipei 101 building.”

The Taipei 101 skyscraper is 508m tall.

Instrument Technology Research Center Director Yeh Jer-liang (葉哲良) said the large-diameter aspheric lenses are the largest lenses manufactured in Taiwan for use in outer space.

He added that their quality is on a par with those produced in other countries using advanced technologies, so the achievement has the potential to help upgrade the industry in Taiwan.

The FORMOSAT 2 was launched in May 2004 and was originally intended to operate for five years, but its work-life has been extended and it is now in its seventh year in space.

The Formosa Satellite 5 will soon replace the aging FORMOSAT 2, the center said, adding that the successful production of large-diameter aspheric lenses was therefore a crucial development.

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