15 October 2004 Stray light lessons learned from the Mars reconnaissance orbiter's optical navigation camera
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Abstract
The Optical Navigation Camera (ONC) is a technical demonstration slated to fly on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2005. Conventional navigation methods have reduced accuracy in the days immediately preceding Mars orbit insertion. The resulting uncertainty in spacecraft location limits rover landing sites to relatively safe areas, away from interesting features that may harbor clues to past life on the planet. The ONC will provide accurate navigation on approach for future missions by measuring the locations of the satellites of Mars relative to background stars. Because Mars will be a bright extended object just outside the camera’s field of view, stray light control at small angles is essential. The ONC optomechanical design was analyzed by stray light experts and appropriate baffles were implemented. However, stray light testing revealed significantly higher levels of light than expected at the most critical angles. The primary error source proved to be the interface between ground glass surfaces (and the paint that had been applied to them) and the polished surfaces of the lenses. This paper will describe troubleshooting and correction of the problem, as well as other lessons learned that affected stray light performance.
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Andrew E. Lowman, John L. Stauder, "Stray light lessons learned from the Mars reconnaissance orbiter's optical navigation camera", Proc. SPIE 5526, Optical Systems Degradation, Contamination, and Stray Light: Effects, Measurements, and Control, (15 October 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.566080; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.566080
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