Special Section on Long-Range Imaging

Design of a space-based infrared imaging interferometer

[+] Author Affiliations
Michael Hart, Douglas Hope

Hart Scientific Consulting International LLC, Tucson, Arizona, United States

Robert Romeo

Composite Mirror Applications, Tucson, Arizona, United States

Opt. Eng. 56(7), 071510 (Jun 22, 2017). doi:10.1117/1.OE.56.7.071510
History: Received January 31, 2017; Accepted June 1, 2017
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Abstract.  Present space-based optical imaging sensors are expensive. Launch costs are dictated by weight and size, and system design must take into account the low fault tolerance of a system that cannot be readily accessed once deployed. We describe the design and first prototype of the space-based infrared imaging interferometer (SIRII) that aims to mitigate several aspects of the cost challenge. SIRII is a six-element Fizeau interferometer intended to operate in the short-wave and midwave IR spectral regions over a 6×6  mrad field of view. The volume is smaller by a factor of three than a filled-aperture telescope with equivalent resolving power. The structure and primary optics are fabricated from light-weight space-qualified carbon fiber reinforced polymer; they are easy to replicate and inexpensive. The design is intended to permit one-time alignment during assembly, with no need for further adjustment once on orbit. A three-element prototype of the SIRII imager has been constructed with a unit telescope primary mirror diameter of 165 mm and edge-to-edge baseline of 540 mm. The optics, structure, and interferometric signal processing principles draw on experience developed in ground-based astronomical applications designed to yield the highest sensitivity and resolution with cost-effective optical solutions. The initial motivation for the development of SIRII was the long-term collection of technical intelligence from geosynchronous orbit, but the scalable nature of the design will likely make it suitable for a range of IR imaging scenarios.

© 2017 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers

Citation

Michael Hart ; Douglas Hope and Robert Romeo
"Design of a space-based infrared imaging interferometer", Opt. Eng. 56(7), 071510 (Jun 22, 2017). ; http://dx.doi.org/10.1117/1.OE.56.7.071510


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