21 September 2012 PICTURE: a sounding rocket experiment for direct imaging of an extrasolar planetary environment
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Abstract
The Planetary Imaging Concept Testbed Using a Rocket Experiment (PICTURE 36.225 UG) was designed to directly image the exozodiacal dust disk of ǫ Eridani (K2V, 3.22 pc) down to an inner radius of 1.5 AU. PICTURE carried four key enabling technologies on board a NASA sounding rocket at 4:25 MDT on October 8th, 2011: a 0.5 m light-weight primary mirror (4.5 kg), a visible nulling coronagraph (VNC) (600-750 nm), a 32x32 element MEMS deformable mirror and a milliarcsecond-class fine pointing system. Unfortunately, due to a telemetry failure, the PICTURE mission did not achieve scientific success. Nonetheless, this flight validated the flight-worthiness of the lightweight primary and the VNC. The fine pointing system, a key requirement for future planet-imaging missions, demonstrated 5.1 mas RMS in-flight pointing stability. We describe the experiment, its subsystems and flight results. We outline the challenges we faced in developing this complex payload and our technical approaches.
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Christopher B. Mendillo, Brian A. Hicks, Timothy A. Cook, Thomas G. Bifano, David A. Content, Benjamin F. Lane, B. Martin Levine, Douglas Rabin, Shanti R. Rao, Rocco Samuele, Edouard Schmidtlin, Michael Shao, J. Kent Wallace, Supriya Chakrabarti, "PICTURE: a sounding rocket experiment for direct imaging of an extrasolar planetary environment", Proc. SPIE 8442, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2012: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 84420E (21 September 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.926408; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/12.926408
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KEYWORDS
Telescopes

Nulling interferometry

Mirrors

Calibration

Cameras

Space telescopes

National Ignition Facility

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