Thursday, August 1, 2013

1307.8154 (Gerald Hechenblaikner et al.)

Fundamental Performance Determining Factors of the Ultrahigh-Precision Space-Borne Optical Metrology System for the LISA Pathfinder mission    [PDF]

Gerald Hechenblaikner, Reinhold Flatscher
The LISA Pathfinder mission to space employs an optical metrology system (OMS) at its core to measure the distance and attitude between two freely floating test-masses to picometer and nanorad accuracy, respectively, within the measurement band of [1 mHz, 30 mHz]. The OMS is based upon an ultra-stable optical bench with 4 heterodyne interferometers from which interference signals are read-out and processed by a digital phase-meter. Laser frequency noise, power fluctuations and optical path-length variations are suppressed to uncritical levels by dedicated control loops so that the measurement performance approaches the sensor limit imposed by the phase-meter. The system design is such that low frequency common mode noise which affects the read-out phase of all four interferometers is generally well suppressed by subtraction of a reference phase from the other interferometer signals. However, high frequency noise directly affects measurement performance and its common mode rejection depends strongly on the relative signal phases. We discuss how the data from recent test campaigns point towards high frequency phase noise as a likely performance limiting factor which explains some important performance features.
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