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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Design and end-to-end modelling of a deployable telescope
Author(s): Dennis Dolkens; Hans Kuiper

Paper Abstract

Deployable optics have the potential of revolutionizing the field of high resolution Earth Observation. By offering the same resolutions as a conventional telescope, while using a much smaller launch volume and mass, the costs of high resolution image data can be brought down drastically. In addition, the technology will ultimately enable resolutions that are currently unattainable due to limitations imposed by the size of launcher fairings.

To explore the possibilities and system complexities of a deployable telescope, a concept study was done to design a competitive deployable imager. A deployable telescope was designed for a ground sampling distance of 25 cm from an orbital altitude of 550 km. It offers an angular field of view of 0.6° and has a panchromatic channel as well as four multispectral bands in the visible and near infrared spectrum.

The optical design of the telescope is based on an off-axis Korsch Three Mirror Anastigmat. A freeform tertiary mirror is used to ensure a diffraction limited image quality for all channels, while maintaining a compact design. The segmented primary mirror consists of four tapered aperture segments, which can be folded down during launch, while the secondary mirror is mounted on a deployable boom. In its stowed configuration, the telescope fits within a quarter of the volume of a conventional telescope reaching the same resolution.

To reach a diffraction limited performance while operating in orbit, the relative position of each individual mirror segment must be controlled to a fraction of a wavelength. Reaching such tolerances with deployable telescope challenging, due to inherent uncertainties in the deployment mechanisms. Adding to the complexity is the fact that the telescope will be operating in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) where it will be exposed to very dynamic thermal conditions. Therefore, the telescope will be equipped with a robust calibration system. Actuators underneath the primary mirror will be controlled using a closed-loop system based on measurements of the image sharpness as well as measurements obtained with edge sensors placed between the mirror segments. In addition, a phase diversity system will be used to recover residual wavefront aberrations.

To aid the design of the deployable telescope, an end-to-end performance model was developed. The model is built around a dedicated ray-trace program written in Matlab. This program was built from the ground up for the purpose of modelling segmented telescope systems and allows for surface data computed with Finite Element Models (FEM) to be imported in the model. The program also contains modules which can simulate the closed-loop calibration of the telescope and it can use simulated images as an input for phase diversity and image processing algorithms. For a given thermo-mechanical state, the end-to-end model can predict the image quality that will be obtained after the calibration has been completed and the image has been processed. As such, the model is a powerful systems engineering tool, which can be used to optimize the in-orbit performance of a segmented, deployable telescope.

Paper Details

Date Published: 25 September 2017
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 10562, International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2016, 1056227 (25 September 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2296169
Show Author Affiliations
Dennis Dolkens, Delft Univ. of Technology (Netherlands)
Hans Kuiper, Delft Univ. of Technology (Netherlands)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10562:
International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2016
Bruno Cugny; Nikos Karafolas; Zoran Sodnik, Editor(s)

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