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Retroreflector for GRACE follow-on: Vertex vs. point of minimal coupling

MPS-Authors

Schütze,  Daniel
Laser Interferometry & Gravitational Wave Astronomy, AEI-Hannover, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

Müller,  Vitali
Laser Interferometry & Gravitational Wave Astronomy, AEI-Hannover, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

Stede,  Gunnar
Laser Interferometry & Gravitational Wave Astronomy, AEI-Hannover, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Sheard,  Benjamin
Laser Interferometry & Gravitational Wave Astronomy, AEI-Hannover, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Heinzel,  Gerhard
Laser Interferometry & Gravitational Wave Astronomy, AEI-Hannover, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Danzmann,  Karsten
Laser Interferometry & Gravitational Wave Astronomy, AEI-Hannover, MPI for Gravitational Physics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Schütze, D., Müller, V., Stede, G., Sheard, B., Heinzel, G., Danzmann, K., et al. (2014). Retroreflector for GRACE follow-on: Vertex vs. point of minimal coupling. Optics Express, 22(8), 9324-9333. doi:10.1364/OE.22.009324.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0023-E04F-E
Abstract
The GRACE Follow-On mission will monitor fluctuations in Earth’s geoid using, for the first time, a Laser Ranging Interferometer to measure intersatellite distance changes. We have investigated the coupling between spacecraft rotation and the intersatellite range measurement that is incurred due to manufacturing and assembly tolerances of the Triple Mirror Assembly (TMA), a precision retroreflector to ensure alignment between in- and outgoing laser beams. The three TMA mirror planes intersect in a virtual vertex to which satellite displacements are referenced. TMA manufacturing tolerances degrade this ideal vertex, however, a Point of Minimal Coupling (PMC) between spacecraft rotation and displacement exists. This paper presents the experimental location of the PMC under pitch and yaw rotations for a prototype TMA. Rotations are performed using a hexapod, while displacements are monitored with heterodyne laser interferometry to verify the PMC position. Additionally, the vertex of the three TMA mirror planes is measured using a Coordinate Measuring Machine and compared to the PMC position. In the pitch and yaw axes, the biggest deviation between TMA vertex and PMC was 50 ± 64 μm. Thus, within the measurement uncertainties, no difference between TMA vertex and PMC could be observed. This is a key piece of information for integration of the TMA into the spacecraft: It is sufficient to use the readily-available TMA vertex location to ensure minimal rotation-to-displacement coupling during the mission.