In light of an earlier post about a great picture taken at the 2009 inaguration and related to an eclectic mix of interests and a subject I'm quite familiar with and have a degree in and concerning a number of comments a while ago on the subject, here is a video from the JPL that may be of interest to some.
Images and imaging, particularly that from distances have become increasingly better, sharper, more detailed over the years.
Such is the case involving optical interferometry. The idea for this came from Radio Astronomy to increase the resolving power of radio telescopes (the ability to "see" finer detail) by linking two dishes a distance apart. Simply put optical interferometry involves two images taken from two (or more) mirrors or lenses with the resultant combined, interpreted and enhanced by computers to produce a picture that would not be possible with a single optical instrument.
Using two lenses or mirrors or combinations of them separated by a distance (a few meters to many meters and eventually possibly kilometers), astronomers are able to measure and indeed, image objects that heretofore were thought to be too small to be seen within the theoretical limits of a single collective system.
Optical interferometry is just out of its infancy having been born in the late 70s, unofficially. The technology of the mid 80s was extreme at the time with tremendous optical breakthroughs in resolution of detail from great distances including satellites in Low Earth Orbit.
While the data of the 80s and 90s were phenomenal for the time, that of today is remarkable and data still to come may border on magic.
This video from the Jet Propulsion Lab offers a glimpse of what can be expected in the immediate future, although stories abound that some of this already exists. Believe what you will.
With SIM, PlanetQuest shows what can be done astronomically. Reading between the lines, one can infer what can be done militarily...or covertly...or maybe has been done.
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