The Terrestrial Planet Finder interferometer design concepts are large
and complex systems that must operate in environments that are impractical to reproduce in preflight testing. The structurally- connected design is 36 meters long - longer than all but one thermal vacuum chamber in existence. The formation flying design will be comprised of up to five separate spacecraft, each with a sunshield over 15 meters on a side, and is designed to operate with formation sizes spanning 60-100 meters. System-level verification of the performance of the designs will rely on analytical modeling. The effort to model the many physical aspects of the designs under study
is under way.
This paper describes the program of modeling for the TPF-I concepts.
The program includes a number of types of models, such as the standard
stand-alone optics, thermal, and structural models, as well as an end-to-end performance model of the project system called the Observatory Simulation. Aspects of each model are discussed including the purpose, methods of implementation (software applications), and approaches to validation. Program-level considerations (such as model-to-model integration and configuration management) are also discussed. Given that there are at least seven different organizations contributing to model developments and more than twenty separate models, these are special challenges.