Episode 457: 361: Making the Atmosphere Disappear. The Power of Adaptive Optics
The Earth’s atmosphere keeps us safe from the harsh environment of space, but it also obscures our view into the cosmos. No matter how powerful a telescope you build, the turbulence of the atmosphere limits your resolution. But astronomers and engineers have an amazing technology that allows a telescope to peer into space as if the atmosphere isn’t even there, producing images from here on the ground which are as sharp and clear as if the telescope was out in space. It’s called adaptive optics, and we’re now at the point where the most powerful ground-based telescopes have matched and even exceeded the capability of space telescopes.