Abstract

The Fresnel Interferometric Imager is a space-based astronomical telescope project yielding milli- arcsecond angular resolution and high contrast images with loose manufacturing constraints. This optical concept involves diffractive focusing and formation flying: a first “primary optics” space module holds a large binary Fresnel array, and a second “focal module” holds optical elements and focal instruments that allow for chromatic dispersion correction. We have designed a reduced-size Fresnel Interferometric Imager prototype and made optical tests in our laboratory in order to validate the concept for future space missions. The primary module of this prototype consists of a square, 8cm side, 23m focal length Fresnel array. The focal module is composed of a diaphragmed small telescope used as “field lens,” a small cophased diverging Fresnel zone lens that cancels the dispersion, and a detector. An additional module collimates the artificial targets of various shapes, sizes, and dynamic ranges to be imaged. We describe the experimental setup, different designs of the primary Fresnel array, and the cophased Fresnel zone lens that achieves rigorous chromatic correction. We give quantitative measurements of the diffraction limited performances and dynamic range on double sources. The tests have been performed in the visible domain, λ=400700nm. In addition, we present computer simulations of the prototype optics based on Fresnel propagation that corroborate the optical tests. This numerical tool has been used to simulate the large aperture Fresnel arrays that could be sent to space with diameters of 3 to 30m, foreseen to operate from Lyman α (121nm) to mid IR (25μm).

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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