Extrasolar Planetary Imaging Coronagraph (EPIC)

Mark Clampin, Gary Melnick, Richard Lyon, Scott Kenyon, Dimitar Sasselov, Volker Tolls, Holland Ford, David Golimowski, Larry Petro, George Hartig, William Sparks, Garth Illingworth, Doug Lin, Sara Seager, Alycia Weinberger, Martin Harwit, Mark Marley, Jean Schneider, Michael Shao, Marty LevineJian Ge, Robert Woodruff

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

15 Scopus citations


The Extrasolar Planetary Imaging Coronagraph (EPIC) is a proposed NASA Discovery mission to image and characterize extrasolar giant planets in orbits with semi-major axes between 2 and 10 AU. EPIC will provide insights into the physical nature of a variety of planets in other solar systems complimenting radial velocity (RV) and astrometric planet searches. It will detect and characterize the atmospheres of planets identified by radial velocity surveys, determine orbital inclinations and masses, characterize the atmospheres around A and F type stars which cannot be found with RV techniques, and observe the inner spatial structure and colors of debris disks. EPIC has a proposed launch date of 2012 to heliocentric Earth trailing drift-away orbit, with a 3 year mission lifetime (5 year goal), and will revisit planets at least three times at intervals of 9 months. The robust mission design is simple and flexible ensuring mission success while minimizing cost and risk. The science payload consists of a heritage optical telescope assembly (OTA), and visible nulling coronagraph (VNC) instrument. The instrument achieves a contrast ratio of 10 9 over a 4.84 arcsecond field-of-view with an unprecedented inner working angle of 0.14 arcseconds over the spectral range of 440-880 nm, with spectral resolutions from 10 - 150. The telescope is a 1.5 meter off-axis Cassegrain with an OTA wavefront error of 6/9, which when coupled to the VNC greatly reduces the requirements on the large scale optics, compressing them to stability requirements within the relatively compact VNC optical chain. The VNC features two integrated modular nullers, a spatial filter array (SFA), and an E2V-L3 photon counting CCD. Direct null control is accomplished from the science focal mitigating against complex wavefront and amplitude sensing and control strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation I
Subtitle of host publicationOptical, Infrared, and Millimeter
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes
EventSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation I: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter - Orlando, FL, United States
Duration: May 24 2006May 31 2006

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Volume6265 I
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherSpace Telescopes and Instrumentation I: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityOrlando, FL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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