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See detailFormation flying metrology for the ESA-PROBA3 mission: the Shadow Position Sensors (SPS) silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs) readout electronics
Focardi, M.; Bemporad, A.; Buckley, S. et al

in Proc. SPIE Volume 9604 Solar Physics and Space Weather Instrumentation VI (2015, September 21)

The European Space Agency (ESA) is planning to launch in 2018 the PROBA3 Mission, designed to demonstrate the inorbit formation flying (FF) attitude capability of its two satellites and to observe the ... [more ▼]

The European Space Agency (ESA) is planning to launch in 2018 the PROBA3 Mission, designed to demonstrate the inorbit formation flying (FF) attitude capability of its two satellites and to observe the inner part of the visible solar corona as the main scientific objective. The solar corona will be observed thanks to the presence on the first satellite, facing the Sun, of an external occulter producing an artificial eclipse of the Sun disk. The second satellite will carry on the coronagraph telescope and the digital camera system in order to perform imaging of the inner part of the corona in visible polarized light, from 1.08 Rsun up to about 3 Rsun. One of the main metrological subsystems used to control and to maintain the relative (i.e. between the two satellites) and absolute (i.e. with respect to the Sun) FF attitude is the Shadow Position Sensor (SPS) assembly. It is composed of eight micro arrays of silicon photomultipliers (SiPMs) able to measure with the required sensitivity and dynamic range the penumbral light intensity on the Coronagraph entrance pupil. In the following of the present paper we describe the overall SPS subsystem and its readout electronics with respect to the capability to satisfy the mission requirements, from the light conversion process on board the silicon-based SPS devices up to the digital signal readout and sampling. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Shadow Positioning Sensors (SPS) for formation flying metrology on-board the ESA-PROBA3 mission
Bemporad, A.; Baccani, C.; Capobianco, G. et al

in Proc. SPIE Volume 9604 Solar Physics and Space Weather Instrumentation VI (2015, September 21)

PROBA3 is an ESA technology mission devoted to in-orbit demonstration of the formation flight (FF) technique, with two satellites kept at an average inter-distance by about 144 m. The ASPIICS instrument ... [more ▼]

PROBA3 is an ESA technology mission devoted to in-orbit demonstration of the formation flight (FF) technique, with two satellites kept at an average inter-distance by about 144 m. The ASPIICS instrument on-board PROBA3 will be the first ever space-based coronagraph working on one satellite and having the external occulter located on the second satellite, thus allowing observations of the inner solar corona with unprecedented reduction of stray light. During the observational periods, the FF configuration will be maintained with very high precision and two different techniques will be implemented: the use of Shadow Positioning Sensors (SPS) located on the Coronagraph Spacecraft (diodes measuring the penumbral light intensity on the entrance pupil plane) and the use of Occulter Position Sensor LEDs (OPSE) located on the back side of the Occulter Spacecraft. This paper will review the main instrumental requirements on the SPS needed to determine the 3-dimensional relative positioning of the two PROBA3 satellites with the high precision and frequency. [less ▲]

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See detailSignificance of the occulter diffraction for the PROBA3/ASPIICS formation flight metrology
Landini, F.; Bemporad, A.; Focardi, M. et al

in Proc. SPIE Volume 9604 Solar Physics and Space Weather Instrumentation VI (2015, September 21)

PROBA-3/ASPIICS is a formation Flying coronagraph selected by ESA and currently in its C/D phase. It is constituted by two spacecrafts (OSC, Occulter SpaceCraft, carrying the occulter, diameter 142 cm ... [more ▼]

PROBA-3/ASPIICS is a formation Flying coronagraph selected by ESA and currently in its C/D phase. It is constituted by two spacecrafts (OSC, Occulter SpaceCraft, carrying the occulter, diameter 142 cm, and CSC, Coronagraph SpaceCraft, with the telescope) separated by ~144 m, kept in strict alignment by means of an active custom system. The alignment active system most critical components are the Shadow Positioning Sensors (SPS), a series of Si-PM (Silicon Photomultiplier) measuring the penumbra generated by the occulter. The arrangement of the SPSs around the telescope entrance aperture is defined as a trade-off between mechanical constraints and maximum sensitivity to misalignments. The signal detected by the SPSs can be approximately simulated with a geometrical analysis based on the variation of the penumbra generated by the external occulter. The stray light generated by the diffraction from the external occulter may affect the SPSs signal. It is mandatory to carefully evaluate its level in order to refine the active alignment adjustment algorithm. This work is dedicated to the description of the preliminary investigation performed in order to evaluate the impact of the diffraction on the SPSs signal. [less ▲]

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See detailDesign status of ASPIICS, an externally occulted coronagraph for PROBA-3
Renotte, Etienne ULg; Alia, A.; Bemporad, A. et al

in Proc. SPIE Volume 9604 Solar Physics and Space Weather Instrumentation VI (2015, September 21)

The “sonic region” of the Sun corona remains extremely difficult to observe with spatial resolution and sensitivity sufficient to understand the fine scale phenomena that govern the quiescent solar corona ... [more ▼]

The “sonic region” of the Sun corona remains extremely difficult to observe with spatial resolution and sensitivity sufficient to understand the fine scale phenomena that govern the quiescent solar corona, as well as phenomena that lead to coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which influence space weather. Improvement on this front requires eclipse-like conditions over long observation times. The space-borne coronagraphs flown so far provided a continuous coverage of the external parts of the corona but their over-occulting system did not permit to analyse the part of the white-light corona where the main coronal mass is concentrated. The proposed PROBA-3 Coronagraph System, also known as ASPIICS (Association of Spacecraft for Polarimetric and Imaging Investigation of the Corona of the Sun), with its novel design, will be the first space coronagraph to cover the range of radial distances between ~1.15 and 3 solar radii where the magnetic field plays a crucial role in the coronal dynamics, thus providing continuous observational conditions very close to those during a total solar eclipse. PROBA-3 is first a mission devoted to the in-orbit demonstration of precise formation flying techniques and technologies for future European missions, which will fly ASPIICS as primary payload. The instrument is distributed over two satellites flying in formation (approx. 150m apart) to form a giant coronagraph capable of producing a nearly perfect eclipse allowing observing the sun corona closer to the rim than ever before. The coronagraph instrument is developed by a large European consortium including about 20 partners from 7 countries under the auspices of the European Space Agency. This paper is reviewing the recent improvements and design updates of the ASPIICS instrument as it is stepping into the detailed design phase. [less ▲]

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See detailOPSE metrology system onboard of the PROBA3 mission of ESA
Loreggia, D.; Bemporad, A.; Capobianco, G. et al

in Proc. SPIE Volume 9604 Solar Physics and Space Weather Instrumentation VI (2015, September 21)

In recent years, ESA has assessed several mission involving formation flying (FF). The great interest in this topics is mainly driven by the need for moving from ground to space the location of next ... [more ▼]

In recent years, ESA has assessed several mission involving formation flying (FF). The great interest in this topics is mainly driven by the need for moving from ground to space the location of next generation astronomical telescopes overcoming most of the critical problems, as example the construction of huge baselines for interferometry. In this scenario, metrology systems play a critical role. PROBA3 is an ESA technology mission devoted to in-orbit demonstration of the FF technique, with two satellites, an occulter and a main satellite housing a coronagraph named ASPIICS, kept at an average inter-distance by about 144m, with micron scale accuracy. The guiding proposal is to test several metrology solution for spacecraft alignment, with the important scientific return of having observation of Corona at never reached before angular field. The Shadow Position Sensors (SPS), and the Optical Position Emitters Sensors (OPSE) are two of the systems used for FF fine tracking. The SPS are finalized to monitor the position of the two spacecraft with respect to the Sun and are discussed in dedicated papers presented in this conference. The OPSE will monitor the relative position of the two satellites and consists of 3 emitters positioned on the rear surface of the occulter, that will be observed by the coronagraph itself. By following the evolution of the emitters images at the focal plane the alignment of the two spacecrafts is retrieved via dedicated centroiding algoritm. We present an overview of the OPSE system and of the centroiding approach. [less ▲]

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See detailMilli-arcsecond Astrophysics with VSI, the VLTI Spectro-imager in the ELT Era
Malbet, F.; Buscher, D.; Weigelt, G. et al

in Moorwood, Alan (Ed.) Science with the VLT in the ELT Era (2009)

Nowadays, compact sources relatively warm like surfaces of nearby stars, circumstellar environments of stars from early stages to the most evolved ones and surroundings of active galactic nuclei can be ... [more ▼]

Nowadays, compact sources relatively warm like surfaces of nearby stars, circumstellar environments of stars from early stages to the most evolved ones and surroundings of active galactic nuclei can be investigated at milli-arcsecond scales only with the VLT in its interferometric mode. We propose a spectro-imager, named VSI (VLTI spectro-imager), which is capable to probe these sources both over spatial and spectral scales in the near-infrared domain. This instrument will provide information complementary to what is obtained at the same time with ALMA at different wavelengths and the extreme large telescopes. [less ▲]

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See detailVSI: the VLTI spectro-imager
Malbet, F.; Buscher, D.; Weigelt, G. et al

in Schöller, Markus; Danchi, William; Delplancke, Françoise (Eds.) Optical and Infrared Interferometry (2008, July 01)

The VLTI Spectro Imager (VSI) was proposed as a second-generation instrument of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer providing the ESO community with spectrally-resolved, near-infrared images at ... [more ▼]

The VLTI Spectro Imager (VSI) was proposed as a second-generation instrument of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer providing the ESO community with spectrally-resolved, near-infrared images at angular resolutions down to 1.1 milliarcsecond and spectral resolutions up to R = 12000. Targets as faint as K = 13 will be imaged without requiring a brighter nearby reference object; fainter targets can be accessed if a suitable reference is available. The unique combination of high-dynamic-range imaging at high angular resolution and high spectral resolution enables a scientific program which serves a broad user community and at the same time provides the opportunity for breakthroughs in many areas of astrophysics. The high level specifications of the instrument are derived from a detailed science case based on the capability to obtain, for the first time, milliarcsecond-resolution images of a wide range of targets including: probing the initial conditions for planet formation in the AU-scale environments of young stars; imaging convective cells and other phenomena on the surfaces of stars; mapping the chemical and physical environments of evolved stars, stellar remnants, and stellar winds; and disentangling the central regions of active galactic nuclei and supermassive black holes. VSI will provide these new capabilities using technologies which have been extensively tested in the past and VSI requires little in terms of new infrastructure on the VLTI. At the same time, VSI will be able to make maximum use of new infrastructure as it becomes available; for example, by combining 4, 6 and eventually 8 telescopes, enabling rapid imaging through the measurement of up to 28 visibilities in every wavelength channel within a few minutes. The current studies are focused on a 4-telescope version with an upgrade to a 6-telescope one. The instrument contains its own fringe tracker and tip-tilt control in order to reduce the constraints on the VLTI infrastructure and maximize the scientific return. [less ▲]

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See detailSystem overview of the VLTI Spectro-Imager
Jocou, L.; Berger, J.-P.; Malbet, F. et al

in Schöller, Markus; Danchi, William; Delplancke, Françoise (Eds.) Optical and Infrared Interferometry (2008, July 01)

The VLTI Spectro Imager project aims to perform imaging with a temporal resolution of 1 night and with a maximum angular resolution of 1 milliarcsecond, making best use of the Very Large Telescope ... [more ▼]

The VLTI Spectro Imager project aims to perform imaging with a temporal resolution of 1 night and with a maximum angular resolution of 1 milliarcsecond, making best use of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer capabilities. To fulfill the scientific goals (see Garcia et. al.), the system requirements are: a) combining 4 to 6 beams; b) working in spectral bands J, H and K; c) spectral resolution from R= 100 to 12000; and d) internal fringe tracking on-axis, or off-axis when associated to the PRIMA dual-beam facility. The concept of VSI consists on 6 sub-systems: a common path distributing the light between the fringe tracker and the scientific instrument, the fringe tracker ensuring the co-phasing of the array, the scientific instrument delivering the interferometric observables and a calibration tool providing sources for internal alignment and interferometric calibrations. The two remaining sub-systems are the control system and the observation support software dedicated to the reduction of the interferometric data. This paper presents the global concept of VSI science path including the common path, the scientific instrument and the calibration tool. The scientific combination using a set of integrated optics multi-way beam combiners to provide high-stability visibility and closure phase measurements are also described. Finally we will address the performance budget of the global VSI instrument. The fringe tracker and scientific spectrograph will be shortly described. [less ▲]

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