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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

The polarization modulators based on liquid crystal variable retarders for the PHI and METIS instruments for the solar orbiter mission
Author(s): A. Alvarez-Herrero; P. García Parejo; H. Laguna; J. Villanueva; J. Barandiarán; L. Bastide; M. Reina; M. Royo

Paper Abstract

A technical development activity was carried out from 2009 to 2011 under ESA supervision to validate the Liquid Crystal Variable Retarders (LCVRs) as polarization modulators for the Solar Orbiter mission. After this, the technology achieved the Technology Readiness Level 5 (TRL5) corresponding to “Component Validation in Relevant Environment”. Afterwards, additional tests and characterizations were performed in order to select the final specifications of the LCVRs cells to optimize their performances under the mission environmental conditions.

The LCVRs will be used to measure the complete Stokes vector of the incoming light in PHI (The Polarimetric and Helioseismic Imager for Solar Orbiter) and the linear polarization in the case of METIS (Multi Element Telescope for Imaging and Spectroscopy). PHI is an imaging spectro-polarimeter that will acquire high resolution solar magnetograms. On the other hand, METIS is a solar coronagraph that will analyze the linear polarization for observations of the visible-light K-corona.

The polarization modulators are described in this work including the optical, mechanical, thermal and electrical aspects. Both modulators will consist of two identical LCVRs with a relative azimuth orientation of 45° for PHI and parallel for the METIS modulator. In the first case, the configuration allows the analysis of the full Stockes vector with maximum polarimetric efficiencies. In the second setup, wide acceptance angles (≤±4°) are obtained.

The polarization modulators will be thermal controlled to reach a stability better than ±0.5°C during the measurement acquisition time (≤60s) under all the operational thermal conditions. This is required to fulfill the required polarimetric accuracy (≤10-3), because the LCVRs behavior has a dependence on temperature. The mechanical design has been conceived to minimize mass, volume and the thermal conductivity as well as the mechanical stress produced by the mounts to the cells, but taking into account the vibration environment due to the launch loads that the device shall withstand. Additionally, the optical clear aperture has been maximized and the design avoids breaks due to thermo-elastic deformations produced during the thermal cycling.

Finally, the electrical cables and connections have been designed to obtain a very compact, modular and robust device.

Paper Details

Date Published: 17 November 2017
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 10563, International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2014, 105632Z (17 November 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2304224
Show Author Affiliations
A. Alvarez-Herrero, Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (Spain)
P. García Parejo, Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (Spain)
H. Laguna, Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (Spain)
J. Villanueva, Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (Spain)
J. Barandiarán, Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (Spain)
L. Bastide, Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (Spain)
M. Reina, Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (Spain)
M. Royo, Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (Spain)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10563:
International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2014
Zoran Sodnik; Bruno Cugny; Nikos Karafolas, Editor(s)

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