- The Hubble Space Telescope is perhaps the most famous space-based optical system, and several of my colleagues actually worked on the design and other aspects of the repair optics (the company even won a NASA award for this and other space-related work).
- In addition to the obvious imaging applications (e.g. amazing Cassini and Spitzer IR images), optics are also involved in science instruments such as spectrometers and polarimeters that provide scientific data on the atmospheres and surfaces of planets, moons, and stars.
- Adaptive optics are widely used in astronomy, laser communication, and other applications where the distortions of the atmosphere must by dynamically compensated. A future application could be the laser power beaming systems for the space elevator.
And even carbon nanotubes have an optical side - a recent report indicates that under some conditions, single-walled carbon nanotubes can emit very bright and tunable (1-2 micrometer wavelengths) infrared light.