17 September 2007 Current alignment techniques and tools for building, aligning, and reconfiguring an optical array at the Navy Prototype Optical Interferometer
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Abstract
There are a total of one hundred seventy precision flat mirrors within the optical array at the Navy Prototype Optical Interferometer (NPOI). During the build phase each mirror center is positioned in space relative to a primary fiducial. Prior to nightly astronomy observations each mirror train, up to six trains containing ten mirrors each, are checked and finely adjusted if necessary. The facilitation of diverse science programs and expanding capabilities at the NPOI require reconfigurations of optical mounts. As part of this process, alignment of the reconfigured optical train is performed. Similar tools and techniques are in use for each of these three processes. A light emitting diode (LED), mounted on a motorized target arm is strategically attached to each mirror's mount for viewing the mirror's center point. A focusable precision alignment telescope mounted in a precision v-block assembly is employed as the basic alignment tool. The human eye is the detector. In this paper, we describe the current tools and techniques used at the NPOI to achieve the requisite alignment tolerances and validations during the build, operations, and reconfiguration phases. We also discuss the development of alignment tolerances, the deficiencies of the current tools and techniques, issues with digital imaging and centroiding, and efforts to enhance, quantify, and validate the alignments.
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James H. Clark, James H. Clark, Joshua P. Walton, Joshua P. Walton, } "Current alignment techniques and tools for building, aligning, and reconfiguring an optical array at the Navy Prototype Optical Interferometer", Proc. SPIE 6665, New Developments in Optomechanics, 666511 (17 September 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.734248; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.734248
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