About Space Optics
Optics as a discipline is all about understanding and manipulating light (or more broadly electromagnetic radiation (from X-Rays through to far-Infra-red and sub-mm waves). We are all intimately familiar with our eyes as a vitally important imaging and sensor system (with our brain) that enables us to operate in a complex world. In a similar way spacecraft employ many different types of optical imaging and sensing systems (spectrometers) to observe and measure the Earth and the universe at large. Optical engineering is an essential capability to enable us to develop, build, test, fly and use optical instrumentation in space for the benefit of all. Think about weather satellites as a familiar example of how dependent we have become on the availability of reliable (optical) data from space.
In this field of optical engineering at ESA we continuously push and enable industry and research entities in Europe to develop the best possible optical technologies for the next generation of spacecraft. The Lisa pathfinder spacecraft is a great example of this. In addition we, in the Optics section, follow and provide expert know-how to ESA approved missions under development which employ optical instrumentation on their payloads – the stunning images from Rosetta and Philae show what we can achieve.
Last update: 8 May 2017