12 October 1996 Kilometric baseline space interferometry
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Abstract
Two versions of a kilometric interferometer with equivalent science capabilities have been studied, one located on the Moon and the other operating as a free-flyer. It has been found that the Moon is not the ideal site for interferometry because of tidal and micro-meteorite induced disturbances, the need for long delay lines and the large temperature swings from day to night. Automatic deployment of the Moon- based interferometer would be difficult and site preparation and assistance by man appear to be essential. The free-flyer would be implemented as a very accurately controlled cluster of independent satellites placed in a halo orbit around the 2nd Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system. Both versions could attain the required scientific performances and each one needs the same type of metrology control. The free-flyer is intrinsically advantageous because of its reconfiguration flexibility, quasi-unlimited baseline length and observation efficiency (the Moon-based interferometer cannot be operated during the lunar day because of stray light). The free-flyer is better suited for implementation in the near or mid-term future, but the Moon-based version could be considered in the long term when a human presence would permit maintenance and upgrading leading to a longer lifetime with continuous performance enhancement.
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Pierre Y. Bely, Robin J. Laurance, Sergio Volonte, Alain H. Greenaway, Christopher A. Haniff, Mario G. Lattanzi, Jean-Marie Mariotti, Jacco C. Noordam, Farrokh Vakili, Oskar von der Luehe, Herve Lambert, Bertrand Calvel, Richard J. Scaddan, Paul Vangasse, "Kilometric baseline space interferometry", Proc. SPIE 2807, Space Telescopes and Instruments IV, (12 October 1996); doi: 10.1117/12.255123; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.255123
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