A key challenge for starshades is formation flying. To successfully image exoplanets, the telescope boresight and starshade must be aligned to ∼1 m at separations of tens of thousands of kilometers. This challenge has two parts: first, the relative position of the starshade with respect to the telescope must be sensed; second, sensor measurements must be combined with a control law to keep the two spacecraft aligned in the presence of gravitational and other disturbances. In this work, we present an optical sensing approach using a pupil imaging camera in a 2.4-m telescope that can measure the relative spacecraft bearing to a few centimeters in 1 s, much faster than any relevant dynamical disturbances. A companion paper will describe how this sensor can be combined with a control law to keep the two spacecraft aligned with minimal interruptions to science observations.
We present the current development of the Carbon Balance Observatory (CARBO). CARBO is a wide-swath mapping, low Earth orbit (LEO) new generation of instruments that expands on the ground-breaking CO2 and Solar Induced Fluorescence (SIF) measurements pioneered by the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2/3) by adding CH4 and CO detection. The instrument’s spatial coverage is delivered at 2 km by 2 km resolution with a field-of-view of 10° to 15° from LEO for a ~200 km wide swath. It achieves roughly 20x better spatial coverage than the OCO-2 instrument, and 3x better Solar Induced Chlorophyll Fluorescence (SIF) detection sensitivity, in a smaller package. CARBO will measure CO2 at <1.5 ppm, CH4 at <7 ppb, CO at <5 ppb and SIF < 20%. The measurement of CO2/CH4/CO/SIF at these concentrations will significantly increase our ability to disentangle carbon fluxes into their constituent components. CARBO utilizes innovative immersion grating technology and enables high resolving power spectroscopy (roughly 20,000) in a smaller and lighter package that is more cost effective than current space-based CO2 remote sensing instruments. CARBO modules cover 4 different spectral ranges (from 740 nm to 2.3μm), where two channels will be built and field tested. CARBO’s modular architecture reduces implementation risk, accelerates access to space, and extends opportunities to a more diverse set of platforms and launch vehicles. CARBO significantly improves our understanding of the global carbon cycle. Here we discuss an overview of the design elements and focus on the expected radiometric performance of channels 1 (~760 nm) and 2 (~1600 nm).
The Carbon Observatory Instrument Suite, or CARBO, consists of four carbon observing instruments sharing a common instrument bus, yet targeted for a particular wavelength band each with a unique science observation. They are: a) Instrument 1, wavelength centered at 756 nm for oxygen and solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF) observations, b) Instrument 2, centered at 1629 nm, for carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) observation, c) Instrument 3, centered at 2062 nm for carbon dioxide and d) Instrument 4, centered at 2328 for carbon monoxide (CO) and methane. From low-Earth orbit, these instruments have a field-of-view of 10 to 15 degrees, and a spatial resolution of 2 km square. These instruments have a spectral resolving power ranging from ten to twenty thousand, and can monitor columnaverage dry air mole fraction of carbon dioxide (XCO2) at 1.5 ppm, and methane (XCH4) at 7 ppb. These new instruments will advance the use of immersion grating technology in spectrometer instruments in order to reduce the size of the instrument, while improving performance. These compact, capable instruments are envisioned to be compatible with small satellites, yet modular to be configured to address the particular science questions at hand. Here we report on the current status of the instrument design and fabrication, focusing primarily on Instruments 1 and 2. We will describe the key science and engineering requirements and the instrument performance error budget. We will discuss the optical design with particular emphasis on the immersion grating, and the advantages this new technology affords compared to previous instruments. We will also discuss the status of the focal plane array and the detector electronics and housing. Finally, we report on a new approach – developed during this instrument design process - which enables simultaneous measurement of both orthogonal polarization states (S and P) over the field-of-view and optical bandpass. We believe this polarization sensing capability will enable science observations which were previously limited by instrumental and observational degeneracies. In particular: improved sensitivity to all species, better sensitivity to surface polarization effects, better constraints on aerosol scattering parameters, and superior discrimination of the vertical distribution of gases and aerosols.
Over the past twenty-five years, ground based telescopes have made the leap from single, continuous primary mirrors to segmented apertures. This transition was motivated by the cost and complexity of large, monolithic optical surfaces. Space telescopes, driven by the same practicalities, are beginning to make this same transition. The challenge is to accurately phase these apertures such that they behave as a single monolithic mirror. Here we introduce a new method for this co-alignment based upon a classic knife-edge technique. The advantage of this method is: 1) it has a very large dynamic range, 2) it works with broadband light and is therefore very photon efficient, 3) it requires only a single mechanism and single sensor, 4) it works equally well with sparsely filled apertures as well as filled apertures, 5) it phases all the segments simultaneously, 6) requires no additional segment motion diversity for sensing. In this paper, we review the knife-edge method, provide context for the segment phasing problem, perform numerical simulations of the sensor, and provide preliminary laboratory confirmation of this method with a demonstration with a segmented deformable mirror.
Sensing starlight rejected from a coronagraph is essential in stabilizing the telescope pointing and wavefront drift, but performance is degraded for dim stars. Laser Metrology (MET) provides a different, complementary sensing method, one that can be used to measure changes in the alignment of the optics at high bandwidth, independent of the magnitude of the host star. Laser metrology measures changes in the separation of optical fiducial pairs, which can be separated by many meters. The principle of operations is similar to the laser metrology system used in LISA-Pathfinder to measure the in-orbit displacement between two test masses to a precision of ~10 picometers. In closed loop with actuators, MET actively maintains rigid body alignment of the front-end optics, thereby eliminating the dominant source of wavefront drift. Because MET is not photon starved, it can operate at high bandwidth and feed-forward secondary-mirror jitter to a fast-steering mirror, correcting line-of-sight errors. In the case of a segmented, active primary mirror, MET provides six degrees of freedom sensing, replacing edge sensors. MET maintains wavefront control even during attitude maneuvers, such as slews between target stars, thereby avoiding the need to repeat time-consuming speckle suppression. These features can significantly improve the performance and observational efficiency of future large-aperture space telescopes equipped with internal coronagraphs. We evaluate MET trusses for various proposed monolithic and segmented spacebased coronagraphs and present the performance requirements necessary to maintain contrast drift below 10-11.
Starshades, large occulters positioned tens of thousands of kilometers in front of space telescopes, offer one of the few paths to imaging and characterizing Earth-like extrasolar planets. However, for a starshade to generate a sufficiently dark shadow on the telescope, the two must be coaligned to just 1 meter laterally, even at these large separations. The principal challenge to achieving this level of control is in determining the position of the starshade with respect to the space telescope. In this paper, we present numerical simulations and laboratory results demonstrating that a Zernike wavefront sensor coupled to a WFIRST-type telescope is able to deliver the stationkeeping precision required, by measuring light outside of the science wavelengths. The sensor can determine the starshade lateral position to centimeter level in seconds of open shutter time for stars brighter than eighth magnitude, with a capture range of 10 meters. We discuss the potential for fast (ms) tip/tilt pointing control at the milli-arcsecond level by illuminating the sensor with a laser mounted on the starshade. Finally, we present early laboratory results.