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Stray light field dependence for large astronomical space telescopes
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Paper Abstract

Future large astronomical telescopes in space will have architectures that expose the optics to large angular extents of the sky. Options for reducing stray light coming from the sky range from enclosing the telescope in a tubular baffle to having an open telescope structure with a large sunshield to eliminate solar illumination. These two options are considered for an on-axis telescope design to explore stray light considerations. A tubular baffle design will limit the sky exposure to the solid angle of the cone in front of the telescope set by the aspect ratio of the baffle length to Primary Mirror (PM) diameter. Illumination from this portion of the sky will be limited to the PM and structures internal to the tubular baffle. Alternatively, an open structure design will allow a large portion of the sky to directly illuminate the PM and Secondary Mirror (SM) as well as illuminating sunshield and other structure surfaces which will reflect or scatter light onto the PM and SM. Portions of this illumination of the PM and SM will be scattered into the optical train as stray light. A Radiance Transfer Function (RTF) is calculated for the open architecture that determines the ratio of the stray light background radiance in the image contributed by a patch of sky having unit radiance. The full 4π steradian of sky is divided into a grid of patches, with the location of each patch defined in the telescope coordinate system. By rotating the celestial sky radiance maps into the telescope coordinate frame for a given pointing direction of the telescope, the RTF may be applied to the sky brightness and the results integrated to get the total stray light from the sky for that pointing direction. The RTF data generated for the open architecture may analyzed as a function of the expanding cone angle about the pointing direction. In this manner, the open architecture data may be used to directly compare to a tubular baffle design parameterized by allowed cone angle based on the aspect ratio of the tubular baffle length to PM diameter. Additional analysis has been done to examine the stray light implications for the fields near the image of a bright source. This near field stray light is shown to be dependent on the Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Function (BRDF) characteristics of the mirrors in the optical train. The near field stray light contribution is dominated by those mirrors closer to the focal plane compared to the contributions from the PM and SM. Hence the near field stray light is independent of the exterior telescope baffle geometry. Contributions from self-emission from the telescope have been compared to natural background for telescopes operating at infrared wavelengths.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 September 2017
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 10398, UV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes and Instruments: Innovative Technologies and Concepts VIII, 103980L (5 September 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2273901
Show Author Affiliations
Paul A. Lightsey, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. (United States)
Charles W. Bowers, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10398:
UV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes and Instruments: Innovative Technologies and Concepts VIII
Howard A. MacEwen; James B. Breckinridge, Editor(s)

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