AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 121 G-waves: Gamma Rays and Gravity
Oral, Wednesday, January 12, 2005, 10:00-11:30am, Royal Palm 4-6

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[121.06] Wavefront Distortion Requirements for the LISA Mission

P. L. Bender (JILA, Univ. of Colorado)

The Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) gravitational wave mission will make use of laser measurements of changes in distance between test masses in spacecraft 5 million km apart. Distortions in the far field wavefronts can interact with jitter in the transmitted beam directions to give apparent variations in the distances between the test masses. About 400 mm diameter telescopes will be used to send the laser beams between the spacecraft. Stabilization of the beam pointing directions will be done using the light from the distant spacecraft as very bright beacons to lock on to.

Earlier studies of the beam pointing requirements for the LISA mission assumed only simple waveform distortions, such as cylindrical distortion or astigmatism. The analysis has now been repeated, including defocus, spherical aberration, and two components each of astigmatism and coma. These lower order aberrations are expected to be among the most damaging ones near the beam axis for a given rms wavefront distortion amplitude. This is because the higher order ones will cause the laser energy to be diffracted away from the axis more. Most of the aberration amplitude is expected to come from the optics before the telescope, rather than from the telescope itself. A total wavefront distortion amplitude of 0.05 wavelength (50 nm) rms or less appears to be adequate.

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