As you can see below, the images are fuzzy compared to the source material. However, it’s important to remember that this the prototype of an entire optical system that’s much smaller and lighter than what you’re used to — in that light, it’s fairly impressive. And Lockheed expects it to be more affordable, especially since you wouldn’t need as large a vessel to launch a telescope into space. If SPIDER enters service, more countries and companies could consider building their own telescopes.

Lockheed adds that the technology wouldn’t just be limited to spaceborne uses. UAVs and other drones could look directly below them without needing a heavy, conspicuous camera underneath, while self-driving cars could have sensors that blend into the chassis. You probably won’t see this tech show up in your next smartphone, but it could help with many larger devices where an optical system’s size and weight can make a big difference.

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