2023-2024 / SPAT0073-1

Space optics


30h Th, 10h Pr

Number of credits

 Master of Science (MSc) in Aerospace Engineering5 crédits 
 Master in space sciences (120 ECTS)5 crédits 


Jerôme Loicq

Language(s) of instruction

English language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

During the course the following topics will covered
Preliminaries in Optics 
The first chapter will be dedicated to remind students the necessary background in optics to follow the lecture. The following topics will be reviewed: Paraxial optics, Geometrical Aberration theory, Diffraction Aberration theory, Transfer functions, Image quality and image formation, Transmittance, Throughput, vignetting,...
From EUV to micro-wave : what are the differences, what's identical?
In most of space science projects, light (or electromagnetic radiation) is the main information transport vector. We will focus on the optical elements and detectors used in space instrument. Similarities and differences on the optical conception will be presented in function of electromagnetic spectra of interest (X-Ray, EUV, UV, Visible, IR, microwave,...)
Modeling: from concept to manufacturing specifications
Before building an optical space instrument an important step is to create its optical model. Modeling tools as ray tracing, Fourier optics and FDTD will be reviewed. What are the specification parameters for manufacturer? How to translate optical design to manufacturing specifications? We will also include tolerances analysis and constrains due to the space mission (Spacecraft interfaces, thermo-mechanical,...) .  Finally, manufacturing technics will also be reviewed.
From source to detector - Instrument throughput and sensitivity
At the end of the chain, photons are converted to electron in instrument detectors. Scientifics need to know how many photons they are observing to create their own models of the target. Each part of the instrument influences how photons are transmitted to the detector and how they are converted. A space instrument has then to be considered as whole. This chapter will also explain how throughput (and its radiometric budget) is calculated.
Optical coating - management of light reflection and transmittance
Large number of space optical instruments are reflective. Most of the coatings are based on multilayer structures. It is possible to take advantages of coatings spectral properties to tune the spectral sensitivities and to increase throughput of space instrument. We will describe how to calculate, to use it and produce high quality coatings for space applications.
Instrument Straylight management
Straylight means unwanted light reaching the detector and decreasing SNR. We will describe the sources of Straylight. It will be described how to suppress (or minimize) straylight and how to measure and characterize it.
Space instruments review/ Space news
Many space instruments are flying, under building or under designing phase. This chapter will be dedicated to a non-exhaustive review of optical space instruments. This chapter will be as large as possible to cover most of the instrument concepts. 

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

The objective is to give to Engineer and Physicist students an overview of optical space instruments already existing or under development. Optical design to instrument calibration and its operational aspects will be presented. This lecture will be based on a strong experience on optical space instruments (design, conception, calibration...).
Interaction with other lectures, seminars,... will be intended. Development of small/nano-satellites as student exercises is foreseen in cooperation with other services of the University (especially FSA). Student Internship based on actual developments will be organized.  Practical lessons on Optical engineering softwares such as CODEV, ASAP, FRED, optiFDTD ... are considered.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Hybrid teaching (as much as possible face-to-face)

Recommended or required readings

Online oral examination (update 10/12/2020)

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course


Professor: Jérôme Loicq, Centre spatial de Liege, University of Liège. j.loicq@ulg.ac.be , Tel: +3243824646 

Association of one or more MOOCs