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Ground calibration of the Ariel space telescope: optical ground support equipment design and description

N. Bowles, M. Abreu, T. A. van Kempen, M. Krijger, R. Spry, R. Evans, R. A. Watkins, C. P. Pereira, E. Pascale, P. Eccleston, C. Pearson, L. Desjonquères, G. Bishop, A. Caldwell, A. Moneti, M. Focardi, S. Sarkar, G. Malaguti, I. Argyriou, K. Nowicki, A. Cabral, G. Tinetti

This paper describes the Optical Ground Support Equipment (OGSE) that is being developed for the payload level testing of the Ariel Space Telescope. Ariel has been adopted as ESA’s “M4” mission in its Cosmic Visions Programme and will launch in 2029 to the second Earth-Sun Lagrange point. During four years of operation the Ariel payload (PL – the cryogenic payload module plus warm units) will perform precise transit spectroscopy of approximately 1000 known exoplanetary atmospheres using a 1.1 m × 0.7 m telescope coupled to two instruments: the Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) and the Ariel Infrared Spectrometer (AIRS). These instruments provide three spectrometric channels that cover 1.0 to 7.8 μm wavelength range and three photometric channels between 0.5 and 1.1 μm. The Ariel OGSE will verify the optical and radiometric performance of the integrated Ariel PL under vacuum and cryogenic (<40 K) test conditions within the limitations of operation under Earth’s gravity and vibration environments. To achieve these verification requirements the OGSE is integrated with the main Ariel ground test 5 m thermal vacuum chamber. The test chamber contains a cryogenic enclosure (the Cryogenic Test Rig) that surrounds the PL and the OGSE itself comprises of four subsystems. (1) A cryogenic vacuum chamber and integrating sphere illumination module that is fed by visible, near infrared and thermal infrared sources. The illumination module is mounted external to the Ariel test chamber and coupled via a vacuum feedthrough that relays a 22 mm diameter test beam into the Cryogenic Test Rig. The test beam is then relayed using (2) an injection module that steers the beam to maintain alignment during cool-down and scan the Ariel telescope field of view. The beam is then expanded to partially illuminate the Ariel telescope primary mirror using an (3) ~0.3 m diameter target projector collimating mirror. The final optical component of the OGSE is a (4) beam expander placed on the Ariel common optical bench to compensate for the sub-aperture illumination of the primary and to ensure that the spectrometer modules provide illumination with correct cone angles during ground testing. It is planned to use the OGSE in 2026 for a full range of calibration and verification tests of the end-to-end telescope and instrument performance, including detectors, field of view and alignment. These tests will then ensure that Ariel meets it challenging photometric and spectral performance requirements.

Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2022: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave
Laura E. Coyle, Shuji Matsuura, Marshall D. Perrin

Proceedings of the SPIE
Volume 12180
2022 August

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Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia