A Caltech Library Service

Optical Planet Discoverer: how to turn a 1.5-m class space telescope into a powerful exo-planetary systems imager

Mennesson, Bertrand and Shao, Mike and Levine, Bruce M. and Wallace, James K. and Liu, Duncan T. and Serabyn, Eugene and Unwin, Stephen C. and Beichman, Charles A. (2003) Optical Planet Discoverer: how to turn a 1.5-m class space telescope into a powerful exo-planetary systems imager. In: High-Contrast Imaging for Exo-Planet Detection. Proceedings of SPIE. No.4860. Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE) , Bellingham, WA, pp. 32-44. ISBN 9780819446398.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Optical Planet Discoverer (OPD) is a 1.5m class space telescope concept working as a visible nulling-interferometer imager. It is designed to detect Jupiter-like planets orbiting main sequence stars 10pc away in a few minutes of integration and carry out a low resolution (~20) spectroscopy of their atmosphere. OPD would fit in the budget envelope of a discovery class mission. It would serve as an efficient precursor to a Visible Terrestrial Planet Finder (VTPF), a scaled-up 4m class version based on the same optical scheme and allowing direct detection of 10pc Earthlike planets in a few hours. We detail here OPD's optical principle layout, which is primarily driven by an integrated stellar light attenuation of 1e-6 in the final focal plane. The optical concept is based on a double-shearing nulling interferometer followed by an array of single-mode waveguides. The waveguides array ensures high residual starlight suppression - as already demonstrated at the 1e-6 level by preliminary JPL visible LASER nulling experiments - together with diffraction limited imaging of the circumstellar environment over a 2 arcsec field. During the observations, the telescope is spun around the line of sight to allow for proper detection of fixed planetary signatures against residual off-axis speckle patterns at the 1e-9 level. Use of the single-mode waveguide array to filter out scattered starlight eliminates the requirements for pristine λ/4000 rms wavefronts anywhere in the optical train. With OPD, stringent phase requirements apply only to scales larger than 5 cm - the equivalent size of the pupil regions to be recombined and nulled in a given fiber, so that phase specifications can be met using low order active optics.

Item Type:Book Section
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Mennesson, Bertrand0000-0003-4205-4800
Beichman, Charles A.0000-0002-5627-5471
Additional Information:© 2003 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). The research described in this paper was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:extrasolar planets, interferometry, nulling, high dynamic range imaging, single-mode fibers, adaptive optics
Series Name:Proceedings of SPIE
Issue or Number:4860
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180801-112900491
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Bertrand P. Mennesson, Michael Shao, Bruce Martin Levine, J. Kent Wallace, Duncan Tsuen-Hsi Liu, Eugene Serabyn, Stephen C. Unwin, Charles A. Beichman, "Optical Planet Discoverer: how to turn a 1.5-m class space telescope into a powerful exo-planetary systems imager", Proc. SPIE 4860, High-Contrast Imaging for Exo-Planet Detection, (3 March 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.457646;
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:88451
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:01 Aug 2018 21:01
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 00:27

Repository Staff Only: item control page