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Navitar is comprised of a network of companies that design, develop, manufacture and distribute precision optical solutions. Navitar Machine Vision supplies optics, opto-mechanical sub-assemblies and opto-electronic system solutions for machine vision, automation, assembly, electronic imaging, testing, measuring and inspection. Our Special Optics division specializes in rapidly designing, prototyping, and manufacturing innovative optical systems for the medical, defense and security, semiconductor and commercial OEM markets.

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Special Optics Builds Telescope Lens Assembly to Support NASA’s ICESat-2 Mission

POSTED 12/09/2010

Special Optics, a Navitar company and vertically integrated supplier of precision optical components and assemblies for high-technology applications, recently completed the design and assembly of a custom 500 mm focal length telescope that will be deployed in NASA’s MABEL laser altimeter instrument.  MABEL is an aircraft-based simulator for the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS) instrument that will fly on board the second generation Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat-2) to measure global changes in polar ice coverage.

Special Optics was contracted by NASA to design and build two 500 mm focal length telescopes for the new ICESat-2 mission, scheduled to launch into orbit in 2016. The ICESat-2 will replace the original ICESat satellite, which successfully collected ice, cloud, topography, and vegetation data from 2003 to 2009. In order to gather information prior to the ICESat-2 launch, NASA is conducting a series of airborne campaigns using the MABEL instrument.

The athermalized 500 mm telescope units, with titanium mechanics, require precise assembly and testing to ensure they are identical in focal length. When used in the aircraft, one telescope will transmit multiple laser pulses and the other telescope will receive the ground reflected light. Using the transmitted and received signals, and precisely measuring the time between pulses, NASA can map the terrain of the earth.

This project has great significance to Navitar, Special Optics’ parent company, headquartered in Rochester, New York. Navitar’s connection to NASA dates back over 40 years when Navitar produced an 8 mm camera lens used to capture historical satellite images of TIROS-1 (Television Infrared Observation Satellite), the world’s first weather satellite. 

“Navitar and Special Optics produce optics widely used for military, defense and homeland security applications. We are pleased to have a continued relationship with NASA and other aerospace agencies and strive to fulfill their optical needs for aerial and space imaging,” comments Navitar’s Co-President, Jeremy Goldstein.

About Special Optics
Special Optics is a vertically integrated supplier of precision optical assemblies for high-technology applications, serving the medical, defense and security, semiconductor, and commercial OEM markets.  Located in Wharton, New Jersey, Special Optics offers best form lenses, beam expanders, scan Lenses, confocal microscopy lenses, multi-element objectives, laser diode collimators, soleil babinet compensators, in-line beam steerers, AR coatings, optical designs and mechanicals for your specific OEM or optical bench requirements. For more information, call 973-366-7289 or visit the Special Optics website at

About Navitar, Inc.
Navitar is the leading supplier of standard and custom engineered optics, opto-mechanical sub-assemblies and opto-electronic system solutions for Medical & Biotechnology, Defense & Security, Military & Government, Semiconductor, Industrial Imaging, and Digital Projection. Navitar integrates its advanced optics, mechanics, and electronics capabilities into complete turnkey precision solutions. Headquartered in Rochester, NY, Navitar also has offices and subsidiaries in the Japan, Germany, China, and the United Kingdom. For more information about Navitar, Inc. and their vast offering of innovative products visit the company's website at

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