Press Release

Corning Reaches Successful Milestone in Development of Discovery Channel Telescope

By SpaceRef Editor
June 22, 2005
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Four-meter class reflecting telescope will serve the research goals of Lowell Observatory and educational and programming goals of Discovery Communications.

CORNING, N.Y. – Corning Incorporated (NYSE:GLW) announced today that it has completed the sagging process of the 4.2-meter ULE(r) mirror blank that will serve as the primary mirror for Lowell Observatory’s Discovery Channel Telescope. Corning’s proprietary ULE(r) is a glass material which exhibits virtually no dimensional changes over extreme temperature variations. This material is generally considered to be one of best in the world for astronomical optics.

The sagging process consisted of creating a form made of refractories that meet the concave-convex shape requirements of mirror designers. The ULE mirror blank was positioned over the form and heated to approximately 2700° Fahrenheit to attain the material’s softening point. At this point, the blank began to sag around the refractories and conformed to the specifications of the mirror designers.

Danny Henderson, division vice president and business director, Corning Specialty Materials said, “Corning is very proud to have been selected the material supplier for the DCT mirror. The successful completion of the sagging milestone can be attributed to Corning’s wealth of experience in supplying astronomy ULE mirrors and the excellent performance of the team in Canton, N.Y. We are now proceeding to the next phase of the program, the net grinding of the mirror blank. Corning looks forward to working closely with Discovery Communications and Lowell Observatory through completion of the DCT mirror.”

The Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) will be located at a new site being developed by Lowell Observatory on the Coconino National Forest in northern Arizona. The telescope will support research of Lowell Observatory astronomers and provide programming opportunities for Discovery Communications, the parent company of cable television’s Discovery Channel. When completed, it will be the fifth largest telescope in the continental United States. The telescope will have a wide variety of uses including: the search for potentially threatening earth-approaching asteroids, exploration of the outer solar system, including the newly discovered Kuiper Belt, and investigations of distant stars and galaxies.

The DCT has a unique optical configuration that allows it the ability to focus on a wide field or to be switched to a longer focal length. This attribute greatly exceeds the capabilities of today’s existing telescopes of the same class. The DCT, in a single wide field exposure mode, will allow astronomers to survey an area of the sky equal to the size of 16 full moons. In the longer focal length mode, the DCT will allow astronomers to zoom in on selected objects for detailed observation and subsequent analysis.

During a recent visit to Canton, N.Y. to view the progress of the mirror blank production, Robert L. Millis, director of Lowell Observatory said, “Corning has demonstrated unfailing professionalism, outstanding customer service, and impressive mastery of its state-of-the-art manufacturing processes during the fabrication of the ULE primary mirror blank for the Discovery Channel Telescope. We look forward to having this Corning product at the heart of our new telescope.”

Corning Semiconductor Optics ( is a leading supplier of glass materials, surfaces, and light management applications. Telescope mirror applications, whether earth-bound or in space, require materials that can perform to the stringent standards of astronomical research. Corning has developed sophisticated weight reduction technologies that make it possible for telescopes to be extremely lightweight yet extremely precise. Corning has drawn upon its glass and process expertise to produce materials with unprecedented precision, homogeneity, and the ability to withstand extreme thermal fluctuations.

About Corning Incorporated

Corning Incorporated ( is a diversified technology company that concentrates its efforts on high-impact growth opportunities. Corning combines its expertise in specialty glass, ceramic materials, polymers and the manipulation of the properties of light, with strong process and manufacturing capabilities to develop, engineer and commercialize significant innovative products for the telecommunications, flat panel display, environmental, semiconductor, and life sciences industries.

About Discovery Communications

Discovery Communications is the leading global real-world media and entertainment company. Discovery has grown from its core property, the Discovery Channel, first launched in the United States in 1985, to current global operations in more than 160 countries and territories with 1.2 billion cumulative subscribers. DCI’s over 90 networks of distinctive programming represent 21 entertainment brands including TLC, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Discovery Health Channel, Discovery Kids, Discovery Times Channel, The Science Channel, Military Channel, Discovery Home Channel, Discovery en Español, Discovery HD Theater and FitTV. DCI’s other properties consist of Discovery Education and Discovery Commerce, which operates 120 Discovery Channel retail stores. DCI also distributes BBC America in the United States. DCI’s ownership consists of four shareholders: Liberty Media Corporation (NYSE: L), Cox Communications, Inc., Advance/Newhouse Communications and John S. Hendricks, the Company’s Founder and Chairman.

About Lowell Observatory

Lowell Observatory, founded in 1894 in Flagstaff, was the first astronomical observatory in Arizona. The first evidence of the expansion of the universe was discovered at Lowell in 1912-1917. The planet Pluto was discovered there in 1930. Today Lowell’s 18 astronomers pursue a broad range of astronomical research using both ground-based and space-based telescopes.

SpaceRef staff editor.