28 August 1998 Verification of the performance of large space-based astronomical observatories: AXAF experience and SIM approaches
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NASA's Search for Origins calls for ambitious astronomical mission to identify Earth-like planets orbiting neighboring stars and observe the formation of the earliest galaxies. These goals demand large, high performance optical systems integrated within precise and stable structures.One of the greatest challenges in developing origins mission is verifying astronomical performance prior to launch. The optical systems for these missions may require dimensions of meters or tens of meters making it extremely unlikely that they can undergo a full scale environmental simulation in their flight configuration. A similar challenge was encountered in the development of the AXAF mission, which combined difficult optical performance requirements with equally daunting cost and schedule constraints. This task was faced by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and an industry team led by TRW. Even before the discovery of spherical aberration on the primary mirror of the Hubble Space Telescope, the AXAF project planned for an extensive series of investments in optical testbeds, simulations, and selective testing of mission-critical subsystems. Planned as the first Origins mission, the Space Interferometry Mission will make microarcsecond astrometric measurements with optics deployed along a ten meter baseline precision structure. SIM lends itself to the same performance verification approach as that taken by the TRW Team on AXAF. Verification approaches for SIM will involve testing these subsystems specifically required for microarcsecond performance in a manageable configuration and relying on analyses and individual component testing to characterize the entire flight configuration system. This paper presented the experience gained from AXAF and outlines a strategy to be used in developing the testing approach for SIM.
© (1998) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
Stewart L. Moses, Stewart L. Moses, Ralph P. Iwens, Ralph P. Iwens, Gary Grimm, Gary Grimm, "Verification of the performance of large space-based astronomical observatories: AXAF experience and SIM approaches", Proc. SPIE 3356, Space Telescopes and Instruments V, (28 August 1998); doi: 10.1117/12.324518; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.324518


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