Precision-aligned, robust, ultra-stable optical assemblies are required in an increasing number of space-based applications such as fundamental science, metrology and geodesy. Hydroxide catalysis bonding is a proven, glue-free, technology for building such optical systems from materials such as ULE, Zerodur and fused silica. Hydroxide catalysis bonded optical systems have flown in missions such as GP-B and LISA Pathfinder achieving picometer path-length stability and microradian component stability over full mission lifetime. Component alignment and bonding was previously a largely manual process that required skilled operators and significant time. We have recently automated most of the alignment and bonding steps with the goals of improving overall precision, speed and reliability. Positioning and bonding of an optical component to within 4 microns and 10 microradians of a target position and alignment can now be reliably completed within half an hour, compared to the many hours typically taken previously. The key new features of this system are an interferometer that monitors the parallelism and separation of the surfaces to be bonded and a precision multi-axis manipulator that can optimise component alignment as it brings it down to the point of bonding. We present a description of the system and a summary of the alignment results obtained in a series of 9 test bonds. We also show how this system is being developed for integration into a precision optical manufacturing facility for assembly of large optical systems
LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) is a proposed space-based instrument for astrophysical observations via the measurement of gravitational waves at mHz frequencies. The triangular constellation of the three LISA satellites will allow interferometric measurement of the changes in distance along the arms. On board each LISA satellite there will be two optical benches, one for each testmass, that measure the distance to the local test mass and to the remote optical bench on the distant satellite. For technology development, an Optical Bench Elegant Bread Board (OB EBB) is currently under construction. To verify the performance of the EBB, another optical bench - the so-called telescope simulator bench - will be constructed to simulate the beam coming from the far spacecraft. The optical beam from the telescope simulator will be superimposed with the light on the LISA OB, in order to simulate the link between two LISA satellites. Similarly in reverse, the optical beam from the LISA OB will be picked up and measured on the telescope simulator bench. Furthermore, the telescope simulator houses a test mass simulator. A gold coated mirror which can be manipulated by an actuator simulates the test mass movements. This paper presents the layout and design of the bench for the telescope simulator and test mass simulator.
The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, as well as its reformulated European-only evolution, the New Gravitational-Wave Observatory, both employ heterodyne laser interferometry on million kilometer scale arm lengths in a triangular spacecraft formation, to observe gravitational waves at frequencies between 3 × 10−5 Hz and 1 Hz. The Optical Bench as central payload element realizes both the inter-spacecraft as well as local laser metrology with respect to inertial proof masses, and provides further functions, such as point-ahead accommodation, acquisition sensing, transmit beam conditioning, optical power monitoring, and laser redundancy switching.
These functions have been combined in a detailed design of an Optical Bench Elegant Breadboard, which is currently under assembly and integration. We present an overview of the realization and current performances of the Optical Bench subsystems, which employ ultraprecise piezo mechanism, ultrastable assembly techniques, and shot noise limited RF detection to achieve translation and tilt metrology at Picometer and Nanoradian noise levels.
For observation of gravitational waves at frequencies between 30 μHz and 1 Hz, the LISA mission will be implemented in a triangular constellation of three identical spacecraft, which are mutually linked by laser interferometry in an active transponder scheme over a 5 million kilometer arm length. On the end point of each laser link, remote and local beam metrology with respect to inertial proof masses inside the spacecraft is realized by the LISA Optical Bench. It implements further- more various ancillary functions such as point-ahead correction, acquisition sensing, transmit beam conditioning, and laser redundancy switching.
A comprehensive design of the Optical Bench has been developed, which includes all of the above mentioned functions and at the same time ensures manufacturability on the basis of hydroxide catalysis bonding, an ultrastable integration technology already perfected in the context of LISA's technology demonstrator mission LISA Pathfinder. Essential elements of this design have been validated by dedicated pre-investigations. These include the demonstration of polarizing heterodyne interferometry at the required Picometer and Nanoradian performance levels, the investigation of potential non-reciprocal noise sources in the so-called backlink fiber, as well as the development of a laser redundancy switch breadboard.
Angular misalignment of one of the interfering beams in laser interferometers can couple into the interferometric length measurement and is called tilt-to-length (TTL) coupling in the following. In the noise budget of the planned space-based gravitational-wave detector evolved Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (eLISA) [1, 2] TTL coupling is the second largest noise source after shot noise .
In preparation for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) space mission, the prototype engineering model of the LISA-Pathfinder optical bench instrument has been built and tested. The instrument is the central part of an interferometer whose purpose is to measure the separation of two free-floating test masses in the spacecraft, with required accuracy to a noise level of 10 pm/Hz?1/2 between 3 mHz and 30 mHz. This will allow the spacecraft to achieve drag-free flight control to a similar level, as a demonstration of technology capability for detection of gravitational waves in the later LISA mission. The optical bench design, fabrication, and experimental results are described in detail, with attention to the strategies for building and alignment. These are particularly problematic in this instrument due to restrictions on the allowable materials and devices, the limited size, the tight alignment requirements for interferometry and interfaces, and the challenging environment specification for space flight. The finished optical bench was integrated to the complete optical metrology package for system-level tests, which were successful, both in meeting the metrology accuracy and in environmental testing. This verifies the feasibility of the design and build methods demonstrated here for use in the space-flight version.
The GEO 600 laser interferometer with 600m armlength is part of a worldwide network of gravitational wave detectors. GEO 600 is unique in having advanced multiple pendulum suspensions with a monolithic last stage and in employing a signal recycled optical design. This paper describes the recent commissioning of the interferometer and its operation in signal recycled mode.
To meet the overall isolation and alignment requirements for the optics in Advanced LIGO, the planned upgrade to LIGO, the US laser interferometric gravitational wave observatory, we are developing three sub-systems: a hydraulic external pre-isolator for low frequency alignment and control, a two-stage active isolation platform designed to give a factor of ~1000 attenuation at 10 Hz, and a multiple pendulum suspension system that provides passive isolation above a few hertz. The hydraulic stage uses laminar-flow quiet hydraulic actuators with millimeter range, and provides isolation and alignment for the optics payload below 10 Hz, including correction for measured Earth tides and the microseism. This stage supports the in-vacuum two-stage active isolation platform, which reduces vibration using force feedback from inertial sensor signals in six degrees of freedom. The platform provides a quiet, controlled structure to mount the suspension system. This latter system has been developed from the triple pendulum suspension used in GEO 600, the German/UK gravitational wave detector. To meet the more stringent noise levels required in Advanced LIGO, the baseline design for the most sensitive optics calls for a quadruple pendulum, whose final stage consists of a 40 kg sapphire mirror suspended on fused silica ribbons to reduce suspension thermal noise.
The LISA Technology Package (LTP) aboard of LISA pathfinder mission is dedicated to demonstrate and verify key technologies for LISA, in particular drag free control, ultra-precise laser interferometry and gravitational sensor. Two inertial sensor, the optical interferometry in between combined with the dimensional stable Glass ceramic Zerodur structure are setting up the LTP. The validation of drag free operation of the spacecraft is planned by measuring laser interferometrically the relative displacement and tilt between two test masses (and the optical bench) with a noise levels of 10pm/√Hz and 10 nrad/√Hz between 3mHz and 30mHz. This performance and additionally overall environmental tests was currently verified on EM level. The OB structure is able to support two inertial sensors (≈17kg each) and to withstand 25 g design loads as well as 0...40°C temperature range. Optical functionality was verified successfully after environmental tests. The engineering model development and manufacturing of the optical bench and interferometry hardware and their verification tests will be presented.
The GEO600 laser interferometric gravitational wave detector is approaching the end of its commissioning phase which started in 1995.
During a test run in January 2002 the detector was operated for 15 days in a power-recycled michelson configuration. The detector and environmental data which were acquired during this test run were used to test the data analysis code. This paper describes the subsystems of GEO600, the status of the detector by August 2002 and the plans towards the first science run.