This paper presents the optical design of the Dilute Aperture Visible Nulling Coronagraph Imaging (DAViNCI).
DAViNCI's dilute aperture approach to the TPF-C extra-solar earth-like detection mission reduces cost and technical
risk compared to other filled aperture approaches. DAViNCI has been studied in an ASMCS (Astrophysics Strategic
Mission Concept Study) and is included within the ASTRO2010 Decadal review . The DAViNCI team is led by
Michael Shao (PI) of JPL.
DAVINCI is a dilute aperture nulling coronagraph that has the potential of directly detecting an Earth in the habitable zone around ~100 nearby stars. The novel feature of this mission concept is to replace a filled aperture 5-6 meter telescope with 4 by 1.1 meter
telescopes in a phased array, dramatically reducing the cost by
potentially by a factor of 5-10.
The Pupil mapping Exoplanet Coronagraphic Observer (PECO) mission concept is a 1.4-m telescope aimed at
imaging and characterizing extra-solar planetary systems at optical wavelengths. The coronagraphic method
employed, Phase-Induced Amplitude Apodization or PIAA (a.k.a. pupil mapping) can deliver 1e-10 contrast at
2 lambda/D and uses almost all the starlight that passes through the aperture to maintain higher throughput and
higher angular resolution than any other coronagraph or nuller, making PECO the theoretically most efficient
existing approach for imaging extra-solar planetary systems. PECO's instrument also incorporates deformable
mirrors for high accuracy wavefront control. Our studies show that a probe-scale PECO mission with 1.4 m
aperture is extremely powerful, with the capability of imaging at spectral resolution R≈∠15 the habitable zones
of already known F, G, K stars with sensitivity sufficient to detect planets down to Earth size, and to map
dust clouds down to a fraction of our zodiacal cloud dust brightness. PECO will acquire narrow field images
simultaneously in 10 to 20 spectral bands covering wavelengths from 0.4 to 1.0 μm and will utilize all available
photons for maximum wavefront sensing and imaging/spectroscopy sensitivity. This approach is well suited for
low-resolution spectral characterization of both planets and dust clouds with a moderately sized telescope.
We also report on recent results obtained with the laboratory prototype of a coronagraphic low order wavefront
sensor (CLOWFS) for PIAA coronagraph. The CLOWFS is a key part of PECO's design and will enable high
contrast at the very small PECO inner working angle.