The Fizeau Interferometer Testbed (FIT) is a ground-based laboratory experiment at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) designed to develop and test technologies that will be needed for future interferometric spacecraft missions. Specifically, the research from this experiment is a proof-of-concept for optical accuracy and stability, closed-loop control algorithms, optimal sampling methodology of the Fourier UV-plane, computational models for system performance, and image synthesis techniques for a sparse array of 7 to 30 mirrors. It will assess and refine the technical requirements on hardware, control, and imaging algorithms for the Stellar Imager (SI), its pathfinder mission, and other sparse aperture and interferometric imaging mission concepts. This ground-based optical system is a collaborative effort between NASA's GSFC, Sigma Space Corporation, the Naval Research Laboratory, and the University of Maryland. We present an overview of the FIT design goals and explain their associated validation methods. We further document the design requirements and provide a status on their completion. Next, we show the overall FIT design, including the optics and data acquisition process. We discuss the technologies needed to insure success of the testbed as well as for an entire class of future mission concepts. Finally, we compare the expected performance to the actual performance of the testbed using the initial array of seven spherical mirrors. Currently, we have aligned and phased all seven mirrors, demonstrated excellent system stability for extended periods of time, and begun open-loop operations using "pinhole" light sources. Extended scenes and calibration masks are being fabricated and will shortly be installed in the source module. Installation of all the different phase retrieval/diversity algorithms and control software is well on the way to completion, in preparation for future tests of closed-loop operations.
The Fizeau Interferometer Testbed (FIT) is a ground-based system that will be used for the development and testing of technologies relevant to Stellar Imager (SI) and other sparse aperture/Fizeau imaging interferometer mission concepts. The testbed will utilize image-based wavefront sensing and control to co-phase and maintain closed-loop control over a Sparse Aperture Array (SAA) consisting of spherical mirror elements. The SAA is a re-configurable assembly baselined to incorporate between seven (initially) and thirty 12.5mm diameter (R = 4000mm) mirror elements. In this paper we describe the fabrication, alignment, and initial calibration of the phase I (7 primary elements) FIT hardware and discuss various factors impacting the performance and stability of the testbed.
Stellar Imager (SI) is a potential NASA space-based UV imaging interferometer to resolve the stellar disks of nearby stars. SI would consist of 20 - 30 separate spacecraft flying in formation at the Earth-Sun L2 libration point. Onboard wavefront control would be required to initially align the formation and maintain alignment during science observations and after array reconfiguration. The Fizeau Interferometry Testbed (FIT) is a testbed currently under development at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center to develop and study the wavefront control methodologies for Stellar Imager and other large, sparse aperture telescope systems. FIT consists of 7 articulated spherical mirrors in a Golay pattern, expandable up to 30 elements, and reconfigurable into multiple array patterns. FIT’s purpose is to demonstrate image quality versus array configuration and to develop and advance the wavefront control for SI. FIT uses extended scene wavelength, focus and field diversity to estimate the wavefront across the set of apertures. The recovered wavefront is decomposed into the eigenmodes of the control matrix and actuators are moved to minimize the wavefront piston, tip and tilt. Each mirror’s actuators are 3 degrees of freedom, however, they do not move each of the mirrors about a point on each mirrors surface, thus the mapping from wavefront piston, tip/tilt to mirror piston, tip/tilt is not diagonal. We initially estimate this mapping but update it as part of wavefront sensing and control process using system identification techniques. We discuss the FIT testbed, wavefront control methodology, and show initial results from FIT.