22 July 2016 On-sky performance evaluation and calibration of a polarization-sensitive focal plane array
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Abstract
The advent of pixelated micropolarizer arrays (MPAs) has facilitated the development of polarization-sensitive focal plane arrays (FPAs) based on charge-coupled devices (CCDs) and active pixel sensors (APSs), which are otherwise only able to measure the intensity of light. Polarization sensors based on MPAs are extremely compact, light-weight, mechanically robust devices with no moving parts, capable of measuring the degree and angle of polarization of light in a single snapshot. Furthermore, micropolarizer arrays based on wire grid polarizers (so called micro-grid polarizers) offer extremely broadband performance, across the optical and infrared regimes. These devices have potential for a wide array of commercial and research applications, where measurements of polarization can provide critical information, but where conventional polarimeters could be practically implemented. To date, the most successful commercial applications of these devices are 4D Technology's PhaseCam laser interferometers and PolarCam imaging polarimeters. Recently, MPA-based polarimeters have been identified as a potential solution for space-based telescopes, where the small size, snapshot capability and low power consumption (offered by these devices) are extremely desirable. In this work, we investigated the performance of MPA-based polarimeters designed for astronomical polarimetry using the Rochester Institute of Technology Polarization Imaging Camera (RITPIC). We deployed RITPIC on the 0.9 meter SMARTS telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory and observed a variety of astronomical objects (calibration stars, variable stars, reflection nebulae and planetary nebulae). We use our observations to develop calibration procedures that are unique to these devices and provide an estimate for polarimetric precision that is achievable.
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Dmitry Vorobiev, Dmitry Vorobiev, Zoran Ninkov, Zoran Ninkov, Neal Brock, Neal Brock, Ray West, Ray West, } "On-sky performance evaluation and calibration of a polarization-sensitive focal plane array", Proc. SPIE 9912, Advances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation II, 99125X (22 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2233333; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2233333
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