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Proceedings Paper

Design and modeling of the formation-flying GNC system for the DARWIN interferometer
Author(s): Celine Beugnon; Bertrand Calvel; Sebastien Boulade; Finn Ankersen
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Paper Abstract

ESA's DARWIN mission is to accomplish the unprecedented challenge of finding Earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars. To tell apart the planet from its blinding 'sun', the system relies upon nulling interferometry: the light collected by six free-flying telescopes is recombined inside a central 'hub', in a way that the beams from the star are 'nulled', while those from the planet interfere constructively. The diameter (50 to 500m) of the free-flying interferometer is determined by the need for angular resolution. In contrast, the differences in optical pathlength between the incoming beams must be kept below 5 nm. It is the purpose of the ongoing "Interferometer Constellation Control" Research & Development study for the European Space Agency (ESA) to propose a design and validate the performances for the GNC system adapted to such a high-precision formation-flying application. The requirements & detailed design of this GNC system are addressed first, including the close connection with the parallel ESA study called "High Precision Optical Metrology" used to verify the feasibility of the critical DARWIN optical metrology system. Then, the modelling & performance assessment of the GNC system is presented, together with the way forward to build a high precision coupled optical/GNC simulator.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 September 2004
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 5497, Modeling and Systems Engineering for Astronomy, (16 September 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.568011
Show Author Affiliations
Celine Beugnon, EADS Astrium (France)
Bertrand Calvel, EADS Astrium (France)
Sebastien Boulade, EADS Astrium (France)
Finn Ankersen, European Space Agency-ESTEC (Netherlands)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5497:
Modeling and Systems Engineering for Astronomy
Simon C. Craig; Martin J. Cullum, Editor(s)

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