2011

Metrology Arrangement for Measuring the Positions of Mirrors of a Submillimeter Telescope

The position of the secondary mirror of a submillimeter telescope with respect to the primary mirror needs to be known ≈0.03 mm in three dimensions. At the time of this reporting, no convenient, reasonably priced arrangement that offers this capability exists. The solution proposed here relies on measurement devices developed and deployed for the GeoSAR mission, and later adapted for the ISAT (Innovative Space Based Radar Antenna Technology) demonstration. The measurement arrangement consists of four metrology heads, located on an optical bench, attached to the secondary mirror. Each metrology head has a dedicated target located at the edge of the primary mirror. One laser beam, launched from the head and returned by the target, is used to measure distance. Another beam, launched from a beacon on the target, is monitored by the metrology head and generates a measurement of the target position in the plane perpendicular to the laser beam. A 100-MHz modulation is carried by a collimated laser beam. The relevant wavelength is the RF one, 3 m, divided by two, because the light carries it to the target and back. The phase change due to travel to the target and back is measured by timing the zero-crossing of the RF modulation, using a 100-MHz clock. In order to obtain good resolution, the 100-MHz modulation signal is down-converted to 1 kHz. Then, the phase change corresponding to the round-trip to the target is carried by a 1-kHz signal. Since the 100-MHz clock beats 100,000 times during one period of the 1-kHz signal, the least-significant-bit (LSB) resolution is LSB = 0.015 mm.

This work was done by Alex Abramovici and Randall K. Bartman of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NPO-47530

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