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15 September 2011 TPF-Interferometer: a decade of development in exoplanet detection technology
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The last decade has seen great advances in interferometric nulling technology, propelled at first by the SIM and KECK nulling programs and then by the Terrestrial Planet Finder Interferometer (TPF-I). In the infrared at N-band (using a CO2 laser at 10.6 micron wavelength) the first million to one nulls were reported on a KECK testbed in 2003. For TPF-I, nulls needed to be both deep and broadband, and a suite of testbeds was designed and built to study all aspects of achromatic nulling and system implementation, including formation flying technology. Also, observatory designs were drawn up and studied against performance models. Modeling revealed that natural variations in the alignment and control of the optical system produced an "instability noise" signal and this realization eventually led to a redesign of the layout to a rectangular formation. The complexity of the early TPF-I spacecraft design was mitigated by the infusion of ideas from Europe and produced the current X-Array design which utilizes simple reflectors to form the apertures together with a stretched three dimensional formation geometry. This paper summarizes the main achievements of the infrared nulling technology program including the development of adaptive nulling for broadband performance and the demonstration of starlight suppression by 100 million to one.
© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Stefan Martin, Alex Ksendzov, Oliver Lay, Robert D. Peters, and Daniel P. Scharf "TPF-Interferometer: a decade of development in exoplanet detection technology", Proc. SPIE 8151, Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets V, 81510D (15 September 2011);


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