28 August 2014 CubeSats as pathfinders for planetary detection: the FIRST-S satellite
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The idea behind FIRST (Fibered Imager foR a Single Telescope) is to use single-mode fibers to combine multiple apertures in a pupil plane as such as to synthesize a bigger aperture. The advantages with respect to a pure imager are i) relaxed tolerance on the pointing and cophasing, ii) higher accuracy in phase measurement, and iii) availability of compact, precise, and active single-mode optics like Lithium Niobate. The latter point being a huge asset in the context of a space mission. One of the problems of DARWIN or SIM-like projects was the difficulty to find low cost pathfinders missions. But the fact that Lithium Niobate optic is small and compact makes it easy to test through small nanosats missions. Moreover, they are commonly used in the telecom industry, and have already been tested on communication satellites. The idea of the FIRST-S demonstrator is to spatialize a 3U CubeSat with a Lithium Niobate nulling interferometer. The technical challenges of the project are: star tracking, beam combination, and nulling capabilities. The optical baseline of the interferometer would be 30 cm, giving a 2.2AU spatial resolution at distance of 10 pc. The scientific objective of this mission would be to study the visible emission of exozodiacal light in the habitable zone around the closest stars.
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S. Lacour, S. Lacour, V. Lapeyrère, V. Lapeyrère, L. Gauchet, L. Gauchet, S. Arroud, S. Arroud, R. Gourgues, R. Gourgues, G. Martin, G. Martin, S. Heidmann, S. Heidmann, X. Haubois, X. Haubois, G. Perrin, G. Perrin, } "CubeSats as pathfinders for planetary detection: the FIRST-S satellite", Proc. SPIE 9143, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2014: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 91432N (28 August 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2057381; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2057381


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