The metrology of membrane structures, especially inflatable, curved, optical surfaces, remains challenging. Internal pressure, mechanical membrane properties, and circumferential bound-ary conditions imbue highly dynamic slopes to the final optic surface. Here, we present our method and experimental results for measuring a 1 m inflatable reflector’s shape response to dynamic pertur-bations in a thermal vacuum chamber. Our method uses phase-measuring deflectometry to track shape change in response to pressure change, thermal gradient, and controlled puncture. We use an initial measurement as a virtual null reference, allowing us to compare 500 mm of measurable aperture of the concave f/2, 1-meter diameter inflatable optic. We built a custom deflectometer that attaches to the TVAC window to make full use of its clear aperture, with kinematic references behind the test article for calibration. Our method produces 500 × 500 pixel resolution 3D surface maps with a repeatability of 150 nm RMS within a cryogenic vacuum environment (T = 140 K, P = 0.11 Pa).
- Inflatable optics
- Terahertz astronomy
- Thermal vacuum testing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging