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A high-resolution portable surface measurement device has been demonstrated to provide micrometer-resolution topographical plots. This device was specifically developed to allow in situ measurements of defects on the Space Shuttle orbiter windows but is versatile enough to be used on a wide variety of surfaces. This paper discusses the choice of an optical sensor and then the decisions required to convert a laboratory bench optical measurement device into an ergonomic portable system. The necessary tradeoffs between performance and portability are presented along with a description of the device developed to measure orbiter window defects.