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CNC Machining of Lightweight Mirrors for a High Resolution Science Experiment Camera

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Lightweight Mirrors for High Resolution Science Experiment Camera
Lightweight Mirrors for High Resolution Science Experiment Camera

At Pacific Quartz, Inc., our portfolio of skills gives us the opportunity to participate in some high profile projects that demand nothing short of perfection. We built the lightweight mirrors shown here for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. Launched in 2005, it was the largest reflecting telescope carried on a deep space mission, and has continued to provide NASA scientists with stunning visuals of the Martian landscape.

This project was challenging, but since we had done other projects for this client, they knew they could trust us to deliver on quality. As a NASA project it was subject to a process qualification program—all manufacturing equipment, tooling, and instrumentation used to assess, measure, or make contact with the product had to be qualified using defined validation protocols. We worked closely with the customer on design and machinability issues, but the dynamics of the project required the client to make modifications to the original model after the job was in process. Our agility enabled us to react quickly adjust what was necessary to keep the project on track.

We wound up delivering two sets of low expansion ceramic glass mirrors to the client within an 8 week timeframe, enabling them to meet their project deadlines. These mirrors are now in orbit millions of miles from Earth, and the telescope continues to provide rich information about our neighboring planet.

Additional information about our contribution to this project can be found in the table below. Contact us at any time to learn more.

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Lightweight Mirrors Project Highlights

Project Name
Lightweight Mirrors
Project Description
Lightweight Mirrors for high resolution science experiment camera (HiRrise). The camera went on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft built for NASA.
Capabilities Applied/Processes
CNC Machining
Surface Grinding
Equipment Used to Manufacture Part
CNC, CMM, Blanchard Surface Grinder
Tightest Tolerances
+/- 0.002"
Material Used
Low Expansion Ceramic Glass
Material Finish
32 and 16 Micro Inches
In Process Testing/Inspection Performed
Industry for Use
2 Sets
Delivery/Turnaround Time
8 Weeks
Delivery Location
Orange County, California
Standards Met
All Mil Specs Required, Customer Drawings/Files, PQI, PQP (Process Qualification Program)

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