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15 September 2011 NEAT: a microarcsec astrometric telescope
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NEAT, Nearby Exo-Earth Astrometric Telescope is a medium-small telescope ~ 1m in diameter that is designed to make ultra precise < 1 uas (microarcsec) astrometric measurements of nearby stars in a ~ 1hr observation. Four major error sources prevent normal space telescopes from obtaining accuracies close to 1 uas. Even with a small 1m telescope, photon noise is usually not a problem for the bright nearby target stars. But in general, the reference stars are much fainter. Typically a field of view of ~0.5 deg dia is needed to obtain enough bright reference stars. The NEAT concept uses a very simple but unusual design to avoid optically induced astrometric errors. The third source of error is the accuracy and stability of the focal plane. A 1uas error over a ~2000 arcsec field of view implies the focal plane is accurate or at least stable to 5 parts in 1010 over the lifetime of the mission (~5yrs). The 4th class of error has to do with our knowledge of the PSF and how that PSF is sampled by an imperfect detector. A Nyquist sampled focal plane would have > 2 pixels per λ/D, and centroiding to 1uas means centroiding to 10-5 pixels. This paper describes the mission concept, and an overview of the technology needed to perform 1uas astrometry with a small telescope, and how we overcome problems 1 and 2. A companion paper will describe the technical progress we've made in solving problems 3 and 4.
© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.
M. Shao, B. Nemati, C. Zhai, R. Goullioud, F. Malbet, and A. Leger "NEAT: a microarcsec astrometric telescope", Proc. SPIE 8151, Techniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets V, 81510V (15 September 2011);


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