22 July 2014 Challenges of the opto-mechanical conceptual design of a small far-IR balloon experiment
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Abstract
Astronomers require more and more precise instruments for their observations. Here we describe the challenges encountered in the optical and mechanical designs of the CIDRE (Campagne d’Identification du Deutérium par Réception hEtérodyne) project, which was to be flown on a high altitude balloon at 40 km. The project aimed to measure the transitions of the HD molecule at 2.675 THz band and some other THz lines in our galaxy. The astronomers asked to fly the biggest possible telescope in a standard balloon gondola, and required high pointing accuracy (7 arcsec). In January 2014, the technical project, including the optical and mechanical designs, was evaluated to be of excellent standard, but, for all that, the project was cancelled because of financial constraints. Nevertheless the phase A study allowed us to identify the optical and mechanical challenges of balloon projects and we were able to come up with a simple design, that fulfilled all the requirements. The 900 mm primary mirror and the rest of the optics were designed to be supported by a sandwich-panel composite structure with carbon epoxy skins and aluminum honeycomb core to improve the mechanical stiffness and the thermal behavior of the instrument without increasing its mass or its complexity.

In this paper, we describe the optical design and the mechanical structure of the instrument. Finite element analysis is carried out to estimate the gravitational flexure and the thermal deformations, which can both harm the pointing accuracy and the performances of the instrument. These simulations show that the proposed design would fulfill the different requirements (pointing accuracy, landing survival as well as the dynamic behavior).
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Jean-Laurent Dournaux, Christophe Berthod, David Horville, Jean-Michel Huet, Philippe Laporte, Martina Wiedner, Alexia Romanow, Jean-Michel Krieg, Laurent Pagani, Jean Evrard, Albert Gomes, Martine Jouret, "Challenges of the opto-mechanical conceptual design of a small far-IR balloon experiment", Proc. SPIE 9145, Ground-based and Airborne Telescopes V, 91452T (22 July 2014); doi: 10.1117/12.2054986; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2054986
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