In preparation for the 2020 Astrophysics Decadal Survey, NASA has commissioned the study of four large mission concepts, including the Large Ultraviolet / Optical / Infrared (LUVOIR) Surveyor. The LUVOIR Science and Technology Definition Team (STDT) has identified a broad range of science objectives including the direct imaging and spectral characterization of habitable exoplanets around sun-like stars, the study of galaxy formation and evolution, the epoch of reionization, star and planet formation, and the remote sensing of Solar System bodies. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is providing the design and engineering support to develop executable and feasible mission concepts that are capable of the identified science objectives. We present an update on the first of two architectures being studied: a 15- meter-diameter segmented-aperture telescope with a suite of serviceable instruments operating over a range of wavelengths between 100 nm to 2.5 μm. Four instruments are being developed for this architecture: an optical / near-infrared coronagraph capable of 10-10 contrast at inner working angles as small as 2 λ/D; the LUVOIR UV Multi-object Spectrograph (LUMOS), which will provide low- and medium-resolution UV (100 – 400 nm) multi-object imaging spectroscopy in addition to far-UV imaging; the High Definition Imager (HDI), a high-resolution wide-field-of-view NUV-Optical-IR imager; and a UV spectro-polarimeter being contributed by Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES). A fifth instrument, a multi-resolution optical-NIR spectrograph, is planned as part of a second architecture to be studied in late 2017.
The advancement of X-ray astronomy largely depends on technological advances in the manufacturing of X-ray optics. Future X-ray astronomy missions will require thousands of nearly perfect mirror segments to produce an X-ray optical assembly with < 5 arcsecond resolving capability. Present-day optical manufacturing technologies are not capable of producing thousands of such mirrors within typical mission time and budget allotments. Therefore, efforts towards the establishment of a process capable of producing sufficiently precise X-ray mirrors in a time-efficient and cost-effective manner are needed. Single-crystal silicon is preferred as a mirror substrate material over glass since it is stronger and free of internal stress, allowing it to retain its precision when cut into very thin mirror substrates. This paper details our early pursuits of suitable fabrication technologies for the mass production of sub-arcsecond angular resolution single-crystal silicon mirror substrates for X-ray telescopes.
Future x-ray astronomical missions require x-ray mirror assemblies that provide both high angular resolution and large photon collecting area. In addition, as x-ray astronomy undertakes more sensitive sky surveys, a large field of view is becoming increasingly important as well. Since implementation of these requirements must be carried out in broad political and economical contexts, any technology that meets these performance requirements must also be financially affordable and can be implemented on a reasonable schedule. In this paper we report on progress of an x-ray optics development program that has been designed to address all of these requirements. The program adopts the segmented optical design, thereby is capable of making both small and large mirror assemblies for missions of any size. This program has five technical elements: (1) fabrication of mirror substrates, (2) coating, (3) alignment, (4) bonding, and (5) mirror module systems engineering and testing. In the past year we have made progress in each of these five areas, advancing the angular resolution of mirror modules from 10.8 arc-seconds half-power diameter reported (HPD) a year ago to 8.3 arc-seconds now. These mirror modules have been subjected to and passed all environmental tests, including vibration, acoustic, and thermal vacuum. As such this technology is ready for implementing a mission that requires a 10-arc-second mirror assembly. Further development in the next two years would make it ready for a mission requiring a 5-arc-second mirror assembly. We expect that, by the end of this decade, this technology would enable the x-ray astrophysical community to compete effectively for a major x-ray mission in the 2020s that would require one or more 1-arc-second mirror assemblies for imaging, spectroscopic, timing, and survey studies.
X-ray optics is an essential component of every conceivable future x-ray observatory. Its astronomical utility is measured with two quantities: angular resolution and photon collecting area. The angular resolution determines the quality of its images and the photon collecting area determines the faintest sources it is capable of detecting and studying. Since it must be space-borne, the resources necessary to realize an x-ray mirror assembly, such as mass and volume, are at a premium. In this paper we report on a technology development program designed to advance four metrics that measure the capability of an x-ray mirror technology: (1) angular resolution, (2) mass per unit photon collecting area, (3) volume per unit photon collecting area, and (4) production cost per unit photon collecting area.
We have adopted two approaches. The first approach uses the thermal slumping of thin glass sheets. It has advantages in mass, volume, and cost. The objective for this approach is improving its angular resolution. As of August 2013, we have been able to consistently build and test with x-ray beams modules that contain three co-aligned Wolter-I parabolichyperbolic mirror pairs, achieving a point spread function (PSF) of 11 arc-second half-power diameter (HPD), to be compared with the 17 arc-seconds we reported last year. If gravity distortion during x-ray tests is removed, these images would have a resolution of 9 arc-seconds, meeting requirements for a 10 arc-second flight mirror assembly. These modules have been subjected to a series of vibration, acoustic, and thermal vacuum tests.
The second approach is polishing and light-weighting single crystal silicon, a material that is commercially available, inexpensive, and without internal stress. This approach has advantages in angular resolution, mass, and volume, and objective is reducing fabrication cost to make it financially feasible to fabricate the ~103 m2 mirror area that would be required for a future major x-ray observatory.
The overall objective of this technology program is to enable missions in the upcoming years with a 10 arc-second angular resolution, and missions with ~1 arc-second angular resolution in the 2020s.
Each mirror produced by this NASA developed process is a monolithic structure from a single crystal of silicon. Due to single crystal silicon's extraordinary homogeneity and lack of internal stress, we light weight after optical polishing. Mirrors produced by our original process were about 1/4th the mass of an equivalent quartz mirror and were typically 1/50th wave or better. We have recently revised our process, replacing the isogrid structures with ones optimized to minimize distortion due to mounting errors. We have also switched from ultrasonic machining to CNC grinding to enable the production of larger mirrors. We report results to date for mirrors produced by the revised process and cryogenic test results for an ultrasonically light weighted mirror.
Following up on Cassini/CIRS, we are building the next-generation Composite InfraRed Spectrometer for deep-space
planetary exploration. CIRS-Lite combines Mid & Far-IR channels into a single instrument with 4x the spectral
sensitivity of CIRS. Here we discuss the instrument optical design, the design process, and the system performance.
We describe a process for fabricating lightweight mirrors from single crystal silicon. We also report ambient and
cryogenic test results on a variety of mirrors made by this process. Each mirror is a monolithic structure from a single
crystal of silicon. Masses are typically 1/3rd to 1/4th that of an equal diameter solid quartz mirror. We avoid print
through of the supporting structure by lightweighting after the optical surface has been formed. Because of the
extraordinary homogeneity of single crystal silicon, distortion of the optical surface by the lightweighting process is
negligible for most applications (<1/40th wave RMS @ 633nm). This homogeneity also accounts for the near zero
distortion at cryogenic temperatures.
A process for fabricating high quality light weight mirrors from single crystal silicon is described. The process uses conventional fabrication techniques in an unconventional sequence. It is capable of producing mirrors with 1/4th the mass of an equivalent solid quartz mirror. Each mirror is a monolithic structure of single crystal silicon. Mirrors with optical figures better than 1/10th wave peak-to-valley (@633 nm) have been demonstrated.
We describe a process for fabricating light weight mirrors from single crystal silicon. The process uses conventional fabrication techniques in an unconventional sequence. The optical surface is ground and polished before light weighting. Distortion is minimized due to the crystalline nature of the material. A final trim polishing step creates no significant print-through due to the small amount of material removed. We are presently completing a set of 4" (10.2cm) diameter test mirrors good to better than 1/10th wave P-V (@633nm) or 1/80th wave RMS. Each mirror is a monolithic structure of single crystal silicon weighing about 80 grams. We are just starting a set of mirrors for the GeoSpec (Geostationary Spectrograph) instrument, including a 10" (25.4cm) diameter, F/3.5 primary.
The Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array (LEISA) represents a new class of hyperspectral cameras which use non- dispersive thin film filters as wavelength selective elements. The simplicity and versatility of these instruments make them attractive for spaceflight use. LEISA currently operates in the shortwave IR spectral region, but the design is adaptable to operation at wavelengths from visible to longwave IR.
The composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS) instrument, an important component of the Cassini mission, consists of 3 focal plane arrays for sensing IR radiation of the Saturnian planetary system. Goddard Space Flight Center has fabricated, tested, and delivered high performance, 10- element HgCdTe photoconductive (PC) arrays for use on CIRS FP3, the focal plane responsible for detection of radiation in the 9.1 to 16.7 micrometers spectral band. The delivered flight array has peak responsivity 100 percent above CIRS specification, detectivity 30 percent or more above specification, and a cutoff wavelength of 17.3 micrometers at the operating temperature of 80 K. In order to achieve high performance at low frequency while maintaining limited power dissipation, we adopted a split-geometry detector structure. This design also ensured the buttability of the PC arrays to photovoltaic arrays supplied by CE-Saclay-France for detection of radiation in the 7.1 to 9.1 micrometers range. The detector structure is also noteworthy for its use of 0.05 micrometers Alumina powder-loaded epoxy to minimize reflection at the epoxy/HgCdTe interface, thus spoiling undesired optical resonance. This was done in order to meet the CIRS spectral uniformity requirement, which would have been difficult at these long wavelengths without this feature.
The simultaneous measurement of the spectrally and spatially variant transmittance of a linear variable order-sorting filter in a manner that closely resembles its conditions of actual use is described. The transmittance of a prototype order-sorting filter was measured in the 400- to 880-nm wavelength region by illuminating it with the output beam of a spectrophotometer while the filter was attached to the front of a 30 x 32 pixel silicon array detector. The filter was designed to be used in the output beam of a grating spectrometer to prevent the dispersal of higher diffracted orders onto an array detector. Areas of the filter that were spatially matched to the corresponding detector pixel column had measured peak transmittances of about 90% that were uniform to within ±1.5% along a given column. Transmittances for incident wavelengths shorter than the desired bandpass, corresponding to the order overlap region, were measured in the 3 x 10-3 range. Line spread function measurements made with the array detector indicated no significant beam spreading caused by inserting the filter into the beam.