AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 3 Space Missions: Planet Finding, Astrobiology and Others
Poster, Monday, January 5, 2004, 9:20am-6:30pm, Grand Hall

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[3.04] The Visible Nulling Coronagraph--Progress Towards Mission and Technology Development

M. Shao, B. M. Levine, J. K. Wallace, E. Serabyn, D. T. Liu (JPL)

This paper describes a space mission for visible direct detection and spectroscopy of Earth like extrasolar planets using a nulling coronagraph instrument behind a moderately sized (~ 4m) telescope in space. In our design, a 4 beam nulling interferometer is synthesized from the telescope pupil, producing a deep null proportional to theta4 which is then filtered by a coherent array of single mode fibers to suppress the residual scattered light. With diffraction limited telescope optics and similar quality components in the optical train (lambda/20), suppression of the starlight to 1e-10 is achievable. We describe key features of the basic analysis, show how this effects a space mission design, present latest results of laboratory measurements demonstrating achievable null depth and component development, and discuss future key technical milestones. This work is funded by NASA.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.