Mark Clampin/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

We propose a technology development program to mature TRLs for the Visible Nulling Coronagraph (VNC). The VNC is a hybrid coronagraphic concept for the suppression of starlight to facilitate imaging and spectroscopic characterization of exosolar planets and the surrounding debris disks.

GSFC has developed two VNC testbeds (1) one, known as the VNC testbed operates in a stabilized vacuum environment to achieve hold broadband contrast at the 10-9 level and the other (2), known as the Null Control Breadboard (NCB) is a test fixture for evaluating segmented deformable mirrors and coherent fiber bundles for developing, comparing and assessing various wavefront control approaches. We have already achieved the first closed-loop control demonstration of white light nulling with a segmented deformable mirror.

Technology development for this study will be carried out on the GSFC visible nulling testbench, and will be followed by performance verification demonstrations that will employ the APEP testbench at JPL. Our study has two major milestones: demonstration of these VNC technologies on the GSFC testbeds at the component level, and then the demonstration of a VNC system level milestone to achieve and hold 10-9 contrast for 1000 seconds, in closed-loop, with broadband thermal illumination.

Technology Development for Exoplanet Missions
Solicitation NNH09ZDA001N-TDEM