The orbiting stellar interferometer (OSI) is a concept for a first-generation space interferometer with astrometric and imaging goals and is responsive to the recommendations of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Survey Committee for an astrometric interferometer mission. The OSI, as developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory over the past several years, is a triple Michelson interferometer with articulating siderostats and optical delay lines. Two point designs for the instrument are described.
The 18-m design uses an 18-m maximum baseline and aperture diameters of 40 cm; the targeted astrometric performance is a wide-field accuracy of 10 μarsec for 16-mag objects in 100 s of integration time and for 20-mag objects in 1 h. The instrument would also be capable of synthesis imaging with a resolution of 5 marcsec, which corresponds to the diffraction limit of the 18-m base line. The design uses a deployed structure, which would fold to fit into an Atlas IIAS shroud, for insertion into a 900-km sun-synchronous orbit. In addition to the 18-m point design a 7-m point design that uses a shorter base line in order to simplify deployment is also discussed. OSI's high performance is made possible by utilizing laser metrology and controlled-optics technology.
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