28 August 2014 Improving our understanding of the Spitzer Space Telescope's pointing drifts
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Abstract
Spitzer observations of exoplanets routinely yield photometric accuracies of better than one part in 10,000. However, the attainable precision is limited in part by pointing drifts, which have the effect of moving the target to less stable or less-well characterized regions of Spitzer’s IRAC detector arrays. Here we examine a large sample of observing sequences in an effort to identify the causes of these pointing drifts. We find that short term and higher order drifts are correlated on various time scales to the temperatures of components in and around the spacecraft bus, and are most likely due to very slight angular displacements of the star trackers. Despite the constraints imposed by a limited pool of targets, such pointing drifts are best mitigated by optimal scheduling, minimizing large and/or lengthy excursions in telescope pitch angle within 24 hours of a high-precision photometry sequence. Such an effort is currently being initiated by the Spitzer Science Center.
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Carl J. Grillmair, Carl J. Grillmair, Sean J. Carey, Sean J. Carey, John R. Stauffer, John R. Stauffer, James G. Ingalls, James G. Ingalls, } "Improving our understanding of the Spitzer Space Telescope's pointing drifts", Proc. SPIE 9143, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2014: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave, 914359 (28 August 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2057238; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2057238
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