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Optical design and performance verification of Herschel-HIFI

PhD ceremony:dr. ir. W. Jellema, MSc
When:May 01, 2015
Supervisors:prof. dr. W. Wild, prof. dr. S. Withington
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Science and Engineering
Optical design and performance verification of Herschel-HIFI

This thesis deals with the verification, characterization and calibration of the optical performance of Herschel-HIFI. The Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI) onboard the Herschel Space Observatory has shown to work very well in taking high spectral resolution observations of a large variety of astronomical objects, and has already made many important discoveries.

The scientific performance of HIFI was intimately connected to realizing the best possible optical performance. An important part of this thesis research was to verify the optical design and performance of Herschel-HIFI by the development and application of novel experimental characterization and calibration techniques, on the ground prior to launch, as well as in-orbit.

This led to excellent optical performance of the instrument, in particular at the high-frequency end of HIFI’s spectral range. Moreover, the accurate experimental data, collected during measurements on the ground, were key to help interpreting and guiding the observations in space, and proved significant to the calibration and subsequent scientific success of HIFI.