9 August 2010 The potential of small space telescopes for exoplanet observations
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The imaging of faint exoplanets near bright stars requires the development of very high contrast detection techniques, including both precise wavefront control and deep starlight rejection. A system-level proof-of-principle experiment carried out at at the Palomar Observatory has recently demonstrated that exoplanets can be detected very near stars even with a fairly small (1.5 m diameter) telescope aperture, such as someday might be used by a first space-based exoplanet imaging mission. Using fine-scale wavefront correction across this small aperture, together with fine pointing and focus control, pre- and post-detection speckle reduction, and a vector vortex coronagraph, it has been possible to achieve extremely good starlight rejection within a small number of diffractions beams of the stellar position. This performance has recently allowed the imaging of the three HR8799 planets and the HD32297 disk, thus providing a first system-level validation of the steps needed to achieve high-contrast observations at very small angles. These results thus serve to highlight the potential of small space telescopes aiming at high-contrast exoplanet observations. Specifically, a small-angle coronagraph enables the use of smaller telescopes, thus potentially reducing mission cost significantly.
© (2010) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
E. Serabyn, E. Serabyn, D. Mawet, D. Mawet, R. Burruss, R. Burruss, } "The potential of small space telescopes for exoplanet observations", Proc. SPIE 7731, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2010: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 77312O (9 August 2010); doi: 10.1117/12.869683; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.869683


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