Abstract

We address the problem of highly accurate phase estimation at low light levels, as required by the Space Interferometry Mission (SIM). The most stringent SIM requirement in this regard is that the average phase error over a 30-s integration time correspond to a path-length error of approximately 30 pm. Most conventional phase-estimation algorithms exhibit significant enough bias at the signal levels at which the SIM will be operating so that some correction is necessary. Several algorithms are analyzed, and methods of compensating for their bias are developed. Another source of error in phase estimation occurs because the phase is not constant over the integration period. Errors that are due to spacecraft motion, the motion of compensating optical elements, and modulation errors are analyzed and simulated. A Kalman smoothing approach for compensating for these errors is introduced.

© 2002 Optical Society of America

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