Modeling current and future telescope system concepts for exoplanet exploration
Author(s)Davidson, Rosemary Katherine.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Rebecca A. Masterson and David W. Miller.
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Exoplanet exploration missions have led to the discovery of thousands of planets orbiting other stars within a few decades since the first exoplanet detection was confirmed. The goal of discovering an Earth analog in the habitable zone of a star drives the requirements for current and future observatory and telescope-starshade missions. These requirements pose significant challenges in the design, development, and operation of an optical system. This thesis seeks to address some of the key challenges faced at all stages of a mission, including the design, development, and operation of a telescope or starshade. As the performance requirements for precision-pointed optical systems become tighter, the ability to solidify key design decisions upfront becomes both more important and more difficult. Optimal system and subsystem designs chosen early in the mission life cycle will prevent the need for costly and time-intensive re-designs during the development stage. Additionally, accurate analysis and modeling of the disturbances that the system will face during operation can ensure the exoplanet yield is maximized for a particular mission. Three reference cases, each at different stages in the mission lifecycle, are explored. First, the pointing stability of an observatory currently in operation will be analyzed to determine the effects of low-frequency disturbances on the photometric precision of the system. Next, the feasible design space a starshade, to be used in conjunction with a ground-based system, will be explored. Finally, the architectural tradespace of an in-space assembled telescope will be studied to define optimal architectures for the given mission requirements. All optical systems presented in this thesis can be used to pursue the goal of discovering an Earth analog orbiting within the habitable zone of its host star.
Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, September, 2020Cataloged from student-submitted PDF of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 137-143).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Aeronautics and Astronautics.