Optical Sensing for Satellites and Spacecraft

Many types of optical sensing and imaging systems are currently used to trace and explore the Earth and the universe at large.

Optical Systems for Spacecraft and Satellites

Image Credit: Andrey Armyagov/Shutterstock.com

Challenges Faced in Designing Optical Systems

It is difficult to design optical systems meant for satellites and spacecraft. This fact can be attributed to the challenging conditions that space applies to systems and components operating in this distant environment, including powerful electromagnetic radiation, zero gravity, high vacuum, restrictions on weight and size, and substantial temperature gradients.

Image Credit: Resolve Optics

The application’s lifetime or the duration for which the optical system needs to function should be taken into consideration when developing optics for a space application.

If the exposure to electromagnetic radiation is greater, the optical system will orbit for a longer time. Hence, only those optical components and structural materials should be used that are impervious to radiation.

Space Lenses from Resolve Optics

The space lenses built by Resolve Optics Ltd include optical elements developed using materials resistant to the effects of radiation.

This enables the space lenses to withstand radiation doses of up to 100,000,000 rads and extreme temperature ranges without compromising on performance.

Space vacuum is one of the most important things that should be considered when building a space-ready lens. It is crucial to wisely select materials that will not outgas. Based on the design and size of the optical system, large air spaces might have to be vented.

Gravity, or the absence of it, must also be looked into. When optical systems with moving parts are built for space, the level of freedom must be minimized because components will shake and move due to the lack of gravity. Precision and performance will be reduced by any unwanted movements.

Due to the space environment, an optical system may also be exposed to substantial temperature gradients leading to variations in optical and mechanical features, thermal expansion, embrittlement, and stress. It is highly crucial to know how optical elements and structural parts will work under a broad range of temperatures when developing optical systems for space applications.


This article has discussed the immense challenges involved in designing optical systems for space applications. For more than two decades, Resolve Optics Ltd has partnered with top satellite development organizations and international space agencies in Europe and North America to design and deliver high-performance optical systems that effectively perform the required function.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Resolve Optics Ltd.

For more information on this source, please visit Resolve Optics Ltd.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.