22 July 2016 Focal plane actuation by hexapod for the development of a high-resolution suborbital telescope
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We present a prototype hexapod image stabilization system as the key instrument for a proposed suborbital balloon mission. The unique design thermally isolates an off-the-shelf non-cryogenic hexapod from a liquid nitrogen cooled focal plane, enabling its use in a cryogenic environment. Balloon gondolas currently achieve 1-2 arcsecond pointing error, but cannot correct for unavoidable jitter movements (~20 micron amplitude at 20 Hz at the worst) caused by wind rushing over balloon surfaces, thermal variations, and vibrations from cryocoolers, and reaction wheels. The jitter causes image blur during exposures and limits the resolution of the system. Removal of this final jitter term decreases pointing error by an order of magnitude and allows for true diffraction-limited observation. Tip-tilt pointing systems have been used for these purposes in the past, but require additional optics and introduce multiple reflections. The hexapod system, rather, is compact and can be plugged into the focal point of nearly any configuration. For a 0.8m telescope the improvement in resolution by this system would provide 0.1” angular resolution at 300nm, which is comparable to Hubble for a fraction of the cost. On an actual balloon, the hexapod system would actuate the focal plane to counteract the jitter using position information supplied by guidestar cameras. However, in the lab, we instead simulate guide camera tracking, using a 1024 × 1024 e2v science-grade CCD to take long exposures of a target attached to an XY stage driven with the balloon jitter signal recorded during the STO mission. Further confirmation of the positional accuracy and agility of the hexapod is achieved using a laser and fast-sampling position-sensitive diode. High-resolution time domain multispectral imaging of the gas giants, especially in the UV range, is of particular interest to the planetary community, and a suborbital telescope with the hexapod stabilization in place would provide a wealth of new data. On an Antarctic ~100-day Long-Duration-Balloon (LDB) mission the continued high-resolution imaging of gas giant storm systems would provide cloud formation and evolution data second to only a Flagship orbiter.
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Alexander D. Miller, Alexander D. Miller, Paul A. Scowen, Paul A. Scowen, Todd J. Veach, Todd J. Veach, "Focal plane actuation by hexapod for the development of a high-resolution suborbital telescope", Proc. SPIE 9912, Advances in Optical and Mechanical Technologies for Telescopes and Instrumentation II, 99126B (22 July 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2230834; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2230834


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