Three options have been developed for Fine Guidance Sensing (FGS) for coronagraphic observatories using a Fine Guidance Camera within a coronagraphic instrument. Coronagraphic observatories require very fine precision pointing in order to image faint objects at very small distances from a target star. The Fine Guidance Camera measures the direction to the target star.

The first option, referred to as Spot, was to collect all of the light reflected from a coronagraph occulter onto a focal plane, producing an Airy-type point spread function (PSF). This would allow almost all of the starlight from the central star to be used for centroiding. The second approach, referred to as Punctured Disk, collects the light that bypasses a central obscuration, producing a PSF with a punctured central disk. The final approach, referred to as Lyot, collects light after passing through the occulter at the Lyot stop.

The study includes generation of representative images for each option by the science team, followed by an engineering evaluation of a centroiding or a photometric algorithm for each option. After the alignment of the coronagraph to the fine guidance system, a “nulling” point on the FGS focal point is determined by calibration. This alignment is implemented by a fine alignment mechanism that is part of the fine guidance camera selection mirror. If the star images meet the modeling assumptions, and the star “centroid” can be driven to that nulling point, the contrast for the coronagraph willbemaximized.

This work was done by Paul Brugarolas, James W. Alexander, John T. Trauger, and Dwight C. Moody of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. NPO-47067

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the May, 2011 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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