The optical properties of the earth's atmosphere vary on short spatial and temporal scales. Although tenuous, the atmosphere is deep enough for the integrated optical variations to impose distortions on the otherwise plane wavefronts of light from astronomical objects. The departures from plane wavefronts are of the order of only a few microns but these have a catastrophic effect on imaging by astronomical telescopes. One, but very expensive, solution to the problem is to launch the telescope above the earth's atmosphere; another is to reduce the distortions in the wavefronts by the use of adaptive optics. These latter techniques promise to bring about a revolution in the quality of astronomical images from which new, exciting astronomy should follow.
- 1 - sciences appliquees, technologies et medecines ; 2 - sciences exactes et technologie ; 3 - terre, ocean, espace ; 4 - geophysique externe
- 1 - Social Sciences ; 2 - Arts and Humanities ; 3 - History and Philosophy of Science
- 1 - science ; 2 - multidisciplinary sciences
- 1 - arts and humanities ; 2 - history & philosophy of science