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Proceedings Paper

Newcomb: a POINTS precursor mission with scientific capacity
Author(s): Robert D. Reasenberg; Robert W. Babcock; James D. Phillips; Kenneth J. Johnston; Richard S. Simon
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Paper Abstract

Newcomb is a design concept for an astrometric optical interferometer with nominal single- measurement accuracy of 100 microseconds of arc ((mu) as). In a three-year mission life, it will make scientifically interesting measurements of O-star, RR Lyrae, and Cepheid distances, establish a reference grid with internal consistency better than 100 (mu) as, and lay groundwork for the larger optical interferometers that are expected to produce a profusion of scientific results during the next century. With an extended mission life, Newcomb could do a useful search for other planetary systems. The instrument is a highly simplified variant of POINTS. It has three (or four) interferometers stacked one above the other. All three (four) optical axes lie on a great circle, which is also the nominal direction of astrometric sensitivity. The second and third axes are separated from the first by fixed 'observation angles' of 40.91 and 60.51 deg. The fourth axis would be at either 70.77 or 78.60 deg from the first. Each interferometer detects a dispersed fringe (channeled spectrum), which falls on a CCD detector array nominally 8 k elements long and a small number of elements wide. With a nominal baseline length of 30 cm and optical passband from 0.9 to 0.3 microns, the Nyquist limit is reached by a star +/- 21 arcmin from the optical axis. The instrument will be constructed of stable materials such as ULE glass, and have neither internal moving parts nor laser metrology.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 September 1993
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 1947, Spaceborne Interferometry, (10 September 1993); doi: 10.1117/12.155750
Show Author Affiliations
Robert D. Reasenberg, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (United States)
Robert W. Babcock, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (United States)
James D. Phillips, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (United States)
Kenneth J. Johnston, Naval Research Lab. (United States)
Richard S. Simon, Naval Research Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1947:
Spaceborne Interferometry
Robert D. Reasenberg, Editor(s)

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