A new concept is being developed at IRAP (OMP Toulouse) for space telescopes, aiming to replace large solid mirrors with thin, light and flexible foils, punched by a large number of arc-shaped apertures. These “Fresnel arrays” focus light by diffraction through their numerous apertures and form highly contrasted images of astronomical sources when operated in space. They can operate at many wavelengths and they are corrected from chromatic aberration. We propose to use them in space for UV astrophysics : their high contrast and high angular resolution capabilities allows to address many science cases such as exoplanet formation and deep sky compact objects. The project has already been proposed to space agencies, yet without success for the moment. However, an increasingly large number of colleagues astrophysicists joins us to propose new science cases resolvable with such large and ultra-light space telescopes, so we have good hope for the future.
Contact IRAP: Laurent Koechlin