SPICA is a cooled, single large-mirror space-telescope, which is under discussion as an succsesor of the ASTRO-F mission. One of the most ambitious challenges of the SPICA mission is the direct observations of exoplanets with a coronagraph instrument. We report cryogenic infrared optics to realize high quality wavefronts for the SPICA coronagraph.
The SPICA satellite will be launched by an H-IIA rocket to Sun-Earth L2 Halo orbit early in the 2010s. The SPICA telescope is a Ritchey-Chretien optics with 3.5m diameter primary mirror, and cooled down to 4.5 K in orbit by radiation cooling and mechanical cryo-coolers. Main working wavelengths are 5–200 micron. Advantages of the SPICA coronagraph are the infrared wavelenths where the contrast between planets and central stars are smaller than the optical wavelengths, and that the cooled space telescope consists of monolithic mirrors.
Development of light-weight cooled telescope is one of the most important tasks to realize SPICA. At the present, sintered SiC and carbon fiber reinforced SiC (C/SiC) composite are candidate materials for the mirrors, truss, and optical bench. For these materials, estimations and improvements of basic property and surface roughness in cryogenic temperatures have been carried out. Deformation of trial product mirrors by cooling is also examined.
We are developing cryogenic deformable mirrors (DMs) because wave front accuracy of the SPICA telescope is 0.35 micron RMS, which is not enough for our coronagraphic instrument. For MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical System) DM and some others, measurements of thermal deformation by cooling, electrical response, and heat generation are undergoing. Developments of a tip-tilt system for cryogenic usage started to cancel vibration caused by the cryo-coolers and other components and to realize a diffraction limit resolution. The first result of our binary mask coronagraph experiment is also shown.