Colloquium: Jacobus (Jim) M. Oschmann

    Thursday, November 6, 2014 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm

    "How Ball Optics Are Contributing to the Way We See Our World and Beyond"


    Since its inception in 1956, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. has been producing state-of-the-art optical instruments for NASA, a wide range of universities, commercial ventures and the Department of Defense. Our optical systems have ranged from apertures of just over a centimeter in the early 1960s, up to 6.6 meters for today’s James Webb Space Telescope. We have designed and built optical systems for wavelengths ranging from the far infrared into the vacuum ultraviolet. Ball cameras have visited all of the inner planets, and the Ralph imager is now on its way to Pluto. The HiRISE imager at Mars has the largest aperture of any camera sent to another planet and can resolve surface features as small as 30 centimeters. Our Kepler photometer has been key to discovering almost 2,000 exoplanets (and counting) during its primary mission and has just begun its secondary mission of looking for earth-like planets orbiting M class stars in the plane of the galaxy. Some of our early Earth-observing systems helped discover and then confirm the presence of the ozone hole, and one of our modern instruments is showing evidence of its recovery. Ball designed and built COSTAR, which corrected the spherical aberration on the Hubble Space Telescope; all of the instruments now working in the HST were designed and built by Ball. Ball also supports the ground-based telescope community, for example the corrector lenses for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope’s camera. Ball is investing in the future developing a range of systems, from the next generation of star trackers for spacecraft, up to the very large optics needed for 30-class space-based observatories.

    Examples of these systems will be presented. Following this, an overview of University alumni employees at Ball will be discussed along with where we see our relationship with the UA continuing in the future.

    Speaker Bio(s): 

    Jim Oschmann is vice president and general manager of the Civil Space and Technology strategic business unit at Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. He is responsible for acquisition and execution of programs for civil customers that address science and technology development objectives.

    Oschmann has held several key leadership positions at Ball Aerospace. Most recently, he served as the vice president and general manager of tactical solutions. He has also served as director of program execution for the Advanced Technologies & Products business area.

    Prior to joining Ball Aerospace in July of 2004, Oschmann served in technical and managerial positions across industry and the science community, including leadership positions at the Gemini Observatory and the National Solar Observatory. Earlier in his career, he worked in commercial and aerospace industries at Phase Shift Technology, Sensis Corporation, Hughes Aircraft and TRW.

    Oschmann holds a bachelor’s degree in optics from the University of Rochester and master’s degrees in optical sciences and business administration from the University of Arizona. He is originally from upstate New York.

    Oschmann is a fellow and lifetime member of SPIE. He previously served on the SPIE Board of Directors. He is a chairman of the SPIE conference on optical, infrared and millimeter space telescopes and has previously chaired other SPIE astronomy symposium and conferences. Oschmann serves on various NASA, National Science Foundation and Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy review and advisory boards. He holds two patents on bar code technology and has over 20 publications.