TOPS: A small space telescope using phase induced-amplitude apodization (PIAA) to image rocky and giant exo-planets

Olivier Guyon, James R.P. Angel, Charles Bowers, James Burge, Adam Burrows, Johanan Codona, Thomas Greene, Masanori Iye, James Kasting, Hubert Martin, Donald W. McCarthy, Victoria Meadows, Michael Meyer, Eugene A. Pluzhnik, Norman Sleeps, Motohide Tamura, Domenick Tenerelli, Robert Vanderbei, Bruce Woodgate, Robert A. WoodruffsNeville J. Woolf

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The Telescope to Observe Planetary Systems (TOPS) is a proposed space mission to image planetary systems of nearby stars simultaneously in a few wide spectral bands covering the visible light (0.4-0.9 μm). It achieves its power by combining a high accuracy wavefront control system with a highly efficient Phase-Induced Amplitude Apodization (PIAA) coronagraph which provides strong suppression very close to the star (within 2 λ/D). The PIAA coronagraphic technique opens the possibility of imaging Earthlike planets in visible light with a smaller telescope than previously supposed. If sized at 1.2-m, TOPS would image and characterize many Jupiter-sized planets, and discover 2 RE rocky planets within habitable zones of the ≈ 10 most favorable stars. With a larger 2-m aperture, TOPS would have the sensitivity to reveal Earth-like planets in the habitable zone around ≈20 stars, and to characterize any found with low resolution spectroscopy. Unless the occurrence of Earth-like planets is very low (η <∼ 0.2), a useful fraction of the TPF-C scientific program would be possible with aperture much smaller than the baselined 8 by 3.5m for TPF, with its more conventional coronagraph. An ongoing laboratory experiment has successfully demonstrated high contrast coronagraphic imaging within 2 λ/d with the PIAA coronagraph / focal plane wavefront sensing scheme envisioned for TOPS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number66930J
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 2007
EventTechniques and Instrumentation for Detection of Exoplanets III - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 28 2007Aug 30 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Adaptive optics
  • Coronagraphy
  • Exoplanets
  • Space telescopes


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