27 June 2006 ALADDIN: an optimized nulling ground-based demonstrator for DARWIN
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Abstract
The ESA Darwin space mission will require a ground based precursor to i/ demonstrate nulling interferometry in an operational context and ii/ carry out some precursor science, such as the characterization of the level of exozodiacal light around the main Darwin targets. These are the stated objectives of the GENIE nulling instrument that was studied for the VLTI. We argue here that the same objectives can be met in a more efficient way by an antarctic-based nulling experiment. The ALADDIN mission concept is an integrated L-band nulling breadboard with relatively modest collectors (1m) and baseline (40m). Because of its privileged location, this is suffcient to achieve a sensitivity (in terms of detectable zodi levels) which is 1.6 to 3.5 times better than GENIE at the VLTI, bringing it below the 20-zodi threshold value identified to carry out the Darwin precursor science. The integrated design enables top-level optimization and full access to the light collectors for the duration of the experiment, while reducing the complexity of the nulling breadboard.
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V. Coudé du Foresto, O. Absil, M. Swain, F. Vakili, M. Barillot, "ALADDIN: an optimized nulling ground-based demonstrator for DARWIN", Proc. SPIE 6268, Advances in Stellar Interferometry, 626810 (27 June 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.672370; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.672370
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