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28 July 2008 Terrestrial exo-planet science by nulling interferometry: instrument design and scientific performance
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The detection of terrestrial exo-planets in the habitable zone of Sun-like stars as well as the proof of biomarkers is one of the most exciting goals in Astrophysics today. A nulling interferometer operated in the mid-infrared wavelength regime allows for overcoming the obstacles of huge contrast ratio and small angular separation between star and planet. Dedicated missions, as ESA's DARWIN or NASA's TPF-I, are implemented as a closely controlled formation of free-flying spacecraft which carry the distributed payload. We discuss various implementation alternatives and present an optimized design of the DARWIN instrument including the science payload and the formation-flying subsystem. We analyze the achievable scientific performance of the DARWIN instrument by taking into account the target properties and the instrument performance. We show that the DARWIN mission is feasible and that the mission goals can be fulfilled.
© (2008) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Oswald Wallner, Klaus Ergenzinger, and Ulrich Johann "Terrestrial exo-planet science by nulling interferometry: instrument design and scientific performance", Proc. SPIE 7013, Optical and Infrared Interferometry, 70132O (28 July 2008);


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