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High performance testbed for four-beam infrared interferometric nulling and exoplanet detection

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Abstract

Technology development for a space-based infrared nulling interferometer capable of earthlike exoplanet detection and characterization started in earnest in the last 10 years. At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the planet detection testbed was developed to demonstrate the principal components of the beam combiner train for a high performance four-beam nulling interferometer. Early in the development of the testbed, the importance of “instability noise” for nulling interferometer sensitivity was recognized, and the four-beam testbed would produce this noise, allowing investigation of methods for mitigating this noise source. The testbed contains the required features of a four-beam combiner for a space interferometer and performs at a level matching that needed for the space mission. This paper describes in detail the design, functions, and controls of the testbed.

©2012 Optical Society of America

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