Abstract

The optical performance of imaging phased telescope arrays is degraded by various design, manufacturing, and operational errors. Perhaps the most basic and fundamental of these error sources are the residual aberrations of the optical design chosen for the individual telescopes. We show that third-order field curvature and distortion, which are rather benign aberrations in a conventional telescope, result in relative phase and tilt errors between the individual telescopes making up the array. The field-dependent image degradation caused by these relative phase and tilt errors is then predicted for different subaperture configurations and telescope design parameters. For phased arrays made up of simple two-mirror telescopes, distortion limits the field of view to less than 5 arcmin for small subapertures (D < 0.5 m), and field curvature limits the field of view to less than 1 arcmin for subaperture diameters greater than 2 m. Quantitative parametric results yielding tolerances for residual field curvature as the phased array is scaled up in size are presented graphically. If a 0.5-deg field of view is desired for telescope diameters greater than 2 m, complex telescope configurations are necessary to satisfy the rather tight tolerances on both field curvature and distortion.

© 1995 Optical Society of America

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