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Proceedings Paper

Terrestrial exo-planet science by nulling interferometry: instrument design and scientific performance
Author(s): Oswald Wallner; Klaus Ergenzinger; Ulrich Johann
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Paper Abstract

The detection of terrestrial exo-planets in the habitable zone of Sun-like stars as well as the proof of biomarkers is one of the most exciting goals in Astrophysics today. A nulling interferometer operated in the mid-infrared wavelength regime allows for overcoming the obstacles of huge contrast ratio and small angular separation between star and planet. Dedicated missions, as ESA's DARWIN or NASA's TPF-I, are implemented as a closely controlled formation of free-flying spacecraft which carry the distributed payload. We discuss various implementation alternatives and present an optimized design of the DARWIN instrument including the science payload and the formation-flying subsystem. We analyze the achievable scientific performance of the DARWIN instrument by taking into account the target properties and the instrument performance. We show that the DARWIN mission is feasible and that the mission goals can be fulfilled.

Paper Details

Date Published: 28 July 2008
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 7013, Optical and Infrared Interferometry, 70132O (28 July 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.789146
Show Author Affiliations
Oswald Wallner, Astrium GmbH (Germany)
Klaus Ergenzinger, Astrium GmbH (Germany)
Ulrich Johann, Astrium GmbH (Germany)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7013:
Optical and Infrared Interferometry
Markus Schöller; William C. Danchi; Françoise Delplancke, Editor(s)

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