The study of sparse aperture masking as a mean to extract spectral information is a relatively little investigated content. However, despite the loss of throughput that comes with this technique, it allows one to benefit from the many advantages brought by interferometry, without the need of complex phase-controlled systems.
In this paper, we analyse the potential of non-redundant aperture masking for spectral measurements, highlighting its capabilities both as a tool for precise single-wavelength metrology, and as alternative to low resolution spectrographs.
Although here presented as a general introduction, this technique is suitable for a large number of potential applications, ranging from compact cube-sat missions for the analysis of bright sources, to large-dish space telescopes where the increased sensitivity allows one to study fainter targets.
The Mid-Infrared ELT Imager and Spectrograph (METIS) is one of three first light instruments on the ELT. It will provide high-contrast imaging and medium resolution, slit-spectroscopy from 3 – 19um, as well as high resolution (R ~ 100,000) integral field spectroscopy from 2.9-5.3µm. All modes observe at the diffraction limit of the ELT, by means of adaptive optics, yielding angular resolutions of a few tens of milliarcseconds. The range of METIS science is broad, from Solar System objects to active galactic nuclei (AGN). We will present an update on the main science drivers for METIS: circum-stellar disks and exoplanets. The METIS project is now in full steam, approaching its preliminary design review (PDR) in 2018. In this paper we will present the current status of its optical, mechanical and thermal design as well as operational aspects. We will also discuss the challenges of building an instrument for the ELT, and the required technologies.
We present the preliminary design of the calibration unit of the future E-ELT instrument METIS. This independent subunit is mounted externally to the main cryostat of METIS and will function both as calibration reference for science observations, as well as verification and alignment tool during the AIT phase. In this paper, we focus on describing its preliminary layout and foreseen functionalities, based on the performance requirements defined at system level and the constraints imposed by warm IR background. We discuss the advantage of employing an integrating sphere as common radiation emitter, leading to a novel and versatile design, where the source’s spatio-spectral properties can be varied with high fidelity and repeatability. By combining only few tuneable sources and mechanisms we show how a large instrument such as METIS can be calibrated and tested, without the need of a complex cold calibration unit.
We present the preliminary optical design of METIS, the Mid-infrared E-ELT Imager and Spectrograph, and study the end-to-end performance regarding wavefront errors and non-common path aberrations. We discuss the results of the Monte Carlo simulations that contain the manufacturing and alignment errors of the opto-mechanical system. We elaborate on the wavefront error budget of the instrument detailing all contributors. We investigate the mid and high spatial frequency errors of the optical surfaces, which we model using simulated surface height errors maps of one dimensional Power Spectral Density (PSD) functions.
METIS, a mid-infrared imager and spectrograph for the wavelength range 2.9–19μm (astronomical L-, M-, N- and Q-band), will be one of the first three science instruments at the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). It will provide diffraction limited imaging, coronagraphy, high resolution integral field spectroscopy and low and medium resolution slit spectroscopy. Within the international METIS consortium, the 1st Institute of Physics of the University of Cologne in Germany is responsible for the design, manufacturing, integration and qualification of the Warm Calibration Unit (WCU) of the instrument. The WCU will be a self-contained unit operating at ambient temperature outside of the voluminous METIS dewar, feeding a variety of optical calibration and alignment signals into the optical path of METIS. The functionalities of the WCU will be used for routine daily daytime calibrations after astronomical observing nights and verification of the internal alignment of METIS during assembly, integration and verification (AIV). In this contribution we present the preliminary optical design and principle of operation of the WCU in its current state of the preliminary design phase of METIS.
Most FIR and sub-mm space borne observatories use polymer-based quasi-optical elements like filters and lenses, due to their high transparency and low absorption in such wavelength ranges. Nevertheless, data from those missions have proven that thermal imbalances in the instrument (not caused by filters) can complicate the data analysis. Consequently, for future, higher precision instrumentation, further investigation is required on any thermal imbalances embedded in such polymer-based filters.
Particularly, in this paper the heating of polymers when operating at cryogenic temperature in space will be studied. Such phenomenon is an important aspect of their functioning since the transient emission of unwanted thermal radiation may affect the scientific measurements. To assess this effect, a computer model was developed for polypropylene based filters and PTFE-based coatings. Specifically, a theoretical model of their thermal properties was created and used into a multi-physics simulation that accounts for conductive and radiative heating effects of large optical elements, the geometry of which was suggested by the large format array instruments designed for future space missions.
It was found that in the simulated conditions, the filters temperature was characterized by a time-dependent behaviour, modulated by a small scale fluctuation. Moreover, it was noticed that thermalization was reached only when a low power input was present.
In the framework of the European FP7-FISICA (Far Infrared Space Interferometer Critical Assessment) program, we developed a miniaturized version of the hyper-telescope to demonstrate multi-aperture interferometry on ground. This setup would be ultimately integrated into a CubeSat platform, therefore providing the first real demonstrator of a multi aperture Fizeau interferometer in space. In this paper, we describe the optical design of the ground testbed and the data processing pipeline implemented to reconstruct the object image from interferometric data. As a scientific application, we measured the Sun diameter by fitting a limb-darkening model to our data. Finally, we present the design of a CubeSat platform carrying this miniature Fizeau interferometer, which could be used to monitor the Sun diameter over a long in-orbit period.
Many important astrophysical processes occur at wavelengths that fall within the far-infrared band of the EM spectrum, and over distance scales that require sub-arc second spatial resolution. It is clear that in order to achieve sub-arc second resolution at these relatively long wavelengths (compared to optical/near-IR), which are strongly absorbed by the atmosphere, a space-based far-IR interferometer will be required. We present analysis of the optical system for a proposed spatial-spectral interferometer, discussing the challenges that arise when designing such a system and the simulation techniques employed that aim to resolve these issues. Many of these specific challenges relate to combining the beams from multiple telescopes where the wavelengths involved are relatively short (compared to radio interferometry), meaning that care must be taken with mirror surface quality, where surface form errors not only present potential degradation of the single system beams, but also serve to reduce fringe visibility when multiple telescope beams are combined. Also, the long baselines required for sub-arc second resolution present challenges when considering propagation of the relatively long wavelengths of the signal beam, where beam divergence becomes significant if the beam demagnification of the telescopes is not carefully considered. Furthermore, detection of the extremely weak far-IR signals demands ultra-sensitive detectors and instruments capable of operating at maximum efficiency. Thus, as will be shown, care must be taken when designing each component of such a complex quasioptical system.
The heating of polymer-based filters for experiment working in mm and FIR bands will be described in this paper. This effect was assessed by doing a comparison between a computer model and data available in literature. Firstly, a theoretical study of the physical quantities relevant to the filters materials such as Polypropylene and Polytetrafluoroethylene was performed. These were then used to create a multi-physics computer model that takes into account thermal and radiative heating of large optical elements such as filters and lenses, the geometry of which was suggested by the large format array instruments designed for future post-Planck CMB space missions. Overall, it was found that all the filters reached a different equilibrium temperature depending on the model considered, with time constant values between 1000 and 1300 s. The maximum deviation from the initial condition was measured between 0.09 K and 1.3 K in the worst cases and the amplitude and phase caused by the period of the heat source were also measured.
We present an ongoing effort to achieve a Double Fourier Modulating (DFM) interferometer in the thermal infrared wavelength range. We describe a testbed designed to combine a sky simulator in the form of a miniaturized complex calibration source at the focus of a parabolic collimator with an interferometer baseline consisting of two parallel telescopes each mounted on a motorized linear stage. The two input arms are combined after one of them is modulated via a fast-scanning piezoelectric roof-top mirror. The optical design and layout of the testbed, the choice of interferometer parameters as well as the calibration scene adopted as source are described.
The construction of a kilometer-baseline far infrared imaging interferometer is one of the big instrumental challenges for astronomical instrumentation in the coming decades. Recent proposals such as FIRI, SPIRIT, and PFI illustrate both science cases, from exo-planetary science to study of interstellar media and cosmology, and ideas for construction of such instruments, both in space and on the ground. An interesting option for an imaging multi-aperture interferometer with km baseline is the space-based hyper telescope (HT) where a giant, sparsely populated primary mirror is constituted of several free-flying satellites each carrying a mirror segment. All the segments point the same object and direct their part of the pupil towards a common focus where another satellite, containing recombiner optics and a detector unit, is located. In Labeyrie’s  original HT concept, perfect phasing of all the segments was assumed, allowing snap-shot imaging within a reduced field of view and coronagraphic extinction of the star. However, for a general purpose observatory, image reconstruction using closure phase a posteriori image reconstruction is possible as long as the pupil is fully non-redundant. Such reconstruction allows for much reduced alignment tolerances, since optical path length control is only required to within several tens of wavelengths, rather than within a fraction of a wavelength. In this paper we present preliminary studies for such an instrument and plans for building a miniature version to be flown on a nano satellite. A design for recombiner optics is proposed, including a scheme for exit pupil re-organization, is proposed, indicating the focal plane satellite in the case of a km-baseline interferometer could be contained within a 1m3 unit. Different options for realization of a miniature version are presented, including instruments for solar observations in the visible and the thermal infrared and giant planet observations in the visible, and an algorithm for design of optimal aperture layout based on least-squares minimization is described. A first experimental setup realized by master students is presented, where a 20mm baseline interferometer with 1mm apertures associated with a thermal infrared camera pointed the sun. The absence of fringes in this setup is discussed in terms of spatial spectrum analysis. Finally, we discuss requirements in terms of satellite pointing requirements for such a miniature interferometer.