The low-order wavefront sensor for the PICTURE-C mission

Christopher B. Mendillo, Joshua Brown, Jason Martel, Glenn A. Howe, Kuravi Hewasawam, Susanna C. Finn, Timothy A. Cook, Supriya Chakrabarti, Ewan S. Douglas, Dimitri Mawet, Olivier Guyon, Garima Singh, Julien Lozi, Kerri L. Cahoy, Anne D. Marinan

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

16 Scopus citations


The PICTURE-C mission will fly a 60 cm off-axis unobscured telescope and two high-contrast coronagraphs in successive high-altitude balloon flights with the goal of directly imaging and spectrally characterizing visible scattered light from exozodiacal dust in the interior 1-10 AU of nearby exoplanetary systems. The first flight in 2017 will use a 10-4 visible nulling coronagraph (previously flown on the PICTURE sounding rocket) and the second flight in 2019 will use a 10-7 vector vortex coronagraph. A low-order wavefront corrector (LOWC) will be used in both flights to remove time-varying aberrations from the coronagraph wavefront. The LOWC actuator is a 76-channel high-stroke deformable mirror packaged on top of a tip-tilt stage. This paper will detail the selection of a complementary high-speed, low-order wavefront sensor (LOWFS) for the mission. The relative performance and feasibility of several LOWFS designs will be compared including the Shack-Hartmann, Lyot LOWFS, and the curvature sensor. To test the different sensors, a model of the time-varying wavefront is constructed using measured pointing data and inertial dynamics models to simulate optical alignment perturbations and surface deformation in the balloon environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationTechniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VII
EditorsStuart Shaklan
ISBN (Electronic)9781628417715
StatePublished - 2015
EventTechniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VII - San Diego, United States
Duration: Aug 10 2015Aug 13 2015

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X
ISSN (Electronic)1996-756X


OtherTechniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets VII
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego


  • balloon
  • debris disks
  • direct imaging
  • exoplanets
  • exozodiacal dust
  • fine pointing
  • high-contrast imaging
  • wavefront control

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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