What's it about?

This work presents an overview of the Segmented Aperture Interferometric Nulling Testbed (SAINT), a project that will pair an actively-controlled macro-scale segmented mirror with the Visible Nulling Coronagraph (VNC). SAINT will incorporate the VNC’s demonstrated wavefront sensing and control system to refine and quantify end-to-end high-contrast starlight suppression performance. This pathfinder testbed will be used as a tool to study and refine approaches to mitigating instabilities and complex diffraction expected from future large segmented aperture telescopes.



Direct detection and characterization of exoplanets is predicated on collecting area and angular resolution available with large telescopes, as well as the ability to suppress starlight relative to the planet at small angular separations using coronagraphic techniques. Recent yield studies indicate that an aperture of 8 meters or greater is necessary to discover tens of Earth-sized habitable zone (HZ) exoplanets, thus allowing for a statistical analysis of the likelihood of habitability.1 Contrast, resolution, and photon count rates...