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Proceedings Paper

Visible nulling coronagraphy testbed development for exoplanet detection
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Paper Abstract

Three of the recently completed NASA Astrophysics Strategic Mission Concept (ASMC) studies addressed the feasibility of using a Visible Nulling Coronagraph (VNC) as the prime instrument for exoplanet science. The VNC approach is one of the few approaches that works with filled, segmented and sparse or diluted aperture telescope systems and thus spans the space of potential ASMC exoplanet missions. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has a well-established effort to develop VNC technologies and has developed an incremental sequence of VNC testbeds to advance the this approach and the technologies associated with it. Herein we report on the continued development of the vacuum Visible Nulling Coronagraph testbed (VNT). The VNT is an ultra-stable vibration isolated testbed that operates under high bandwidth closed-loop control within a vacuum chamber. It will be used to achieve an incremental sequence of three visible light nulling milestones of sequentially higher contrasts of 108, 109 and 1010 at an inner working angle of 2*λ/D and ultimately culminate in spectrally broadband (>20%) high contrast imaging. Each of the milestones, one per year, is traceable to one or more of the ASMC studies. The VNT uses a modified Mach-Zehnder nulling interferometer, modified with a modified "W" configuration to accommodate a hex-packed MEMS based deformable mirror, a coherent fiber bundle and achromatic phase shifters. Discussed will be the optical configuration laboratory results, critical technologies and the null sensing and control approach.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 August 2010
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 7731, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2010: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 77312B (6 August 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.857472
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 Advanced Technology Ctr. (United States)
Patrick Thompson, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Andrew Chen, Lockheed Martin Corp. (United States)
Peter Petrone, Sigma Space Corp. (United States)
Andrew Booth, Sigma Space Corp. (United States)
Timothy Madison, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
Matthew Bolcar, NASA Goddard Space Flight Ctr. (United States)
M. Charley Noecker, Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp. (United States)
Stephen Kendrick, Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp. (United States)
Gary Melnick, Harvard-Smithsonian Ctr. for Astrophysics (United States)
Volker Tolls, Harvard-Smithsonian Ctr. for Astrophysics (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7731:
Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2010: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
Jacobus M. Oschmann; Mark C. Clampin; Howard A. MacEwen, Editor(s)

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