See a demonstration (opens a new window) of what happens to the light path when you combine several convex or concave lenses.
Better ground based telescopes and special optical instruments such as spectrometers enabled people to discover many secrets of the universe, and ground based telescopes and scientific optical instruments continue to be used and improved even today.
But since 1957, optics has also been an important part of the Space Age, starting with ground-based telescopes used to track rockets and satellites. Soon after there were Earth satellites with cameras, telescopes, and other optical instruments, many to look back at Earth, and many more to look at the stars and planets. A little later the US and the then Soviet Union also started to send spacecraft out of Earth orbit to visit the Moon, Venus, Mars, and eventually all the planets except Pluto (a NASA probe is on its way to Pluto now, due to arrive in 2015).
The Hubble Space Telescope is perhaps the most famous space-based optical system, and several engineers at ORA actually worked on the design and other aspects of the repair optics. We even won a NASA Public Service Group Achievement for this and other space-related work). See this website to learn more on how the Hubble works.
Another telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, will be launched in October this year (2021). It will be able to detect and study faint galaxies in the early universe like no instrument before it. In our own galaxy, it will also be able to penetrate the visibly opaque dust and gas of stellar nurseries and probe the atmosphere of exoplanets.
If you are interested in learning about other planets, perhaps we'll learn more from the Mars rovers. Most recently, the Synopsys optical engineering team designed the Mastcam-Z zoom lens for the Mars Perseverance rover that landing on Mars in February 2021. The Mastcam-Z instrument, which functions as the rover’s mast-mounted scientific “eyes.” The “Z” in Mastcam-Z stands for “zoom.” It represents a milestone in the history of space exploration: it’s the first zoom lens system to be included on a deep space instrument.