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Proceedings Paper

Balloon exoplanet nulling interferometer (BENI)
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Paper Abstract

We evaluate the feasibility of a balloon-borne nulling interferometer to detect and characterize an exosolar planet and the surrounding debris disk. The existing instrument consists of a three-telescope Fizeau imaging interferometer with thre fast steering mirrors and three delay lines operating at 800 Hz for closed-loop control of wavefront errors and fine pointing. A compact visible nulling interferometer would be coupled to the imaging interferometer and in principle, allows deep starlight suppression. Atmospheric simulations of the environment above 100,000 feet show that balloonborne payloads are a possible path towards the direct detection and characterization of a limited set of exoplanets and debris disks. Furthermore, rapid development of lower cost balloon payloads provide a path towards advancement of NASA technology readiness levels for future space-based exoplanet missions. Discussed are the BENI mission and instrument, the balloon environment and the feasibility of such a balloon-borne mission.

Paper Details

Date Published: 20 August 2009
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 7440, Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets IV, 74401A (20 August 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.827411
Show Author Affiliations
Richard G. Lyon, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Mark Clampin, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Robert A. Woodruff, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. (United States)
Gopal Vasudevan, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. (United States)
Holland Ford, Johns Hopkins Univ. (United States)
Larry Petro, Space Telescope Science Institute (United States)
Jay Herman, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Stephen Rinehart, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Kenneth Carpenter, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Joe Marzouk, Sigma Space Corp. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7440:
Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets IV
Stuart B. Shaklan, Editor(s)

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