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The NPOI has a resolution of about 16 milliarcseconds.
In order to move beyond NPOI's already impressive resume of accomplishments, the Naval Research Lab (NRL) plans to replace the current siderostats and telescopes with larger diameter telescopes.
Sergio Restaino is the NRL scientist responsible for upgrading the NPOI. He needed a lightweight, thermally and environmentally stable, cost-effective material with which to build six 1.4-m telescopes, and he chose carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP).
Numbers like these grabbed the attention of the NPOI team, and CMA designed a 16" CFRP brassboard telescope that could be scaled to a 1.4 m diameter.
That program, along with the NPOI development project and others, has contributed to the rapid maturation of the CFRP technology.
The final 1.4-m-aperture NPOI telescopes, including both structure and optics, are projected to weigh less than 120 kg.
These features certainly made CFRP attractive to Restaino as his team designed the upgrade to NPOI. Larger aperture telescopes will dramatically increase the sensitivity of stellar interferometry at NPOI, and, thanks to the integrated CFRP design, it will all be done with minimal changes to the existing infrastructure.
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