Darwin : the technical challenges of an optical nulling interferometer in space

Eric Thomas, Thierry Viard, Glenn Lund, Michel Vacance, Georges Otrio
2017 International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2000  
Alcatel Space has been responsible for a feasibility study contract, awarded by the European Space Agency, and dedicated to the definition of preliminary interferometric concepts for the direct detection and characterisation of exo-planets associated with nearby stars. The retained concept is a six free-flyer-telescope interferometer, with a variable baseline ranging from 50 to 500 m. The collected wavefronts are combined on a 7 th free-flying hub satellite at the centre of the array, and the
more » ... he array, and the observations are performed in the thermal Infra-Red spectral band. The latter choice is made for two reasons : firstly, the wavelength providing optimal contrast between the planetary and stellar (background) signals is approximately 1 0 μm; secondly, the spectral features of interest for the detection of life as we know it (CO 2 , H 2 O, O 3 , CH 4 ... ) lie in the band between 6 and 18 μm.
doi:10.1117/12.2307876 fatcat:jptzs4suazgkveml3pbfrdeski