DoD Communities Of Interest: R&D Research and Development
Subject: Zenith (Telescope Pre-solicitation)
Due Date: Mar 16, 2023 04:00 pm EDT
Government Organization: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
The Defense Sciences Office (DSO) at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
(DARPA) is soliciting innovative research proposals related to methods by which a telescope,
comprising a reflective liquid primary surface held in a light-focusing shape, may be compelled
to maintain that shape even if tilted out-of-plane. These mirrors will be tiltable, scalable,
damage-resilient, dual-use (defined as suitable for both space and ground telescope applications),
and in monolithic and segmented designs that require no motion to operate.
Proposed research should investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances
in science, devices, or systems. Specifically excluded are solutions that require thrust or rotation
of the primary mirror to work and research that primarily results in evolutionary improvements
to the existing state of practice.
The primary goals of the Zenith program are to design, build and prove tiltable, scalable,
damage-resilient liquid mirrors to support future ground and space systems:
1. Develop the requisite surface and field control techniques to allow an LM to be tilted offaxis
and slew, while maintaining imaging quality wavefront error levels, without a
functional dependence on rotation, gravity, or thrust.
2. Develop the open-source modeling tools required to successfully design and predict LM
optical performance for a pointable LMT.
3. Develop both monolithic (single primary mirror) and segmented liquid mirror designs
with associated surface control, modeling, out-of-plane tip/tilt/slew, and imaging quality
wavefront error levels.
4.Demonstrate ground-based laboratory and on-sky LM imaging, with a 2 m diameter lens
and 25° out-of-plane tilt and tip4 angles.
5. Demonstrate ground-based laboratory and on-sky LM imaging, with a 1 m diameter
segmented lens and 25° out-of-plane tilt and tip5 angles.
Additionally, performers should develop the modeling and simulation (M&S) tools and
numerical approximations to evaluate the hydrodynamic motion of a liquid material while under
the influence of an electromagnetic field (or other actuating/control force). The technical
challenge is to understand how to model, simulate, and predict the evolution of the liquid mirror
surface as a function of the near-field source, and then apply that to a changing vector gravity
scenario given changing tip/tilt angles and slew motion of the mirror. Performers will develop
M&S tools to sufficient fidelity to be able to perform mirror material trades, design of
experiments, and ultimately, support the Phase II M&S and laboratory-scale demonstrations.
Validation, and confidence in the fidelity of these M&S tools, will be established first through
inspection by the program’s Government Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) team,
and then by release to the wider astronomy community for peer-review.
Questions regarding this Special Notice should be emailed to Zenith@darpa.mil.
Additional information regarding this BAA can be found at the link below.
Questions or assistance, contact:
North Carolina Defense Technology Transition Office (DEFTECH)
North Carolina Defense Technology Transition Office | PO Box 1748, Fayetteville, NC 28303