X-ray Telescope, Telescope, Grazing Incidence, Detector Effects, Wide-field Imaging Analysis


The field of X-ray astronomy is only forty (43) years old, and grazing incidence X-ray telescopes have only been conceived and designed for a little over fifty (50) years. The Wolter Type I design is particularly well suited for stellar astronomical telescopes (very small field-of-view). The first orbiting X-ray observatory, HEAO-1 was launched in 1977, a mere twenty-eight (28) years ago. Since that time large nested Wolter Type I X-ray telescopes have been designed, build, and launched by the European Space Agency (ROSAT) and NASA (the Chandra Observatory). Several smaller grazing incidence telescopes have been launched for making solar observations (SOHO, HESP, SXI). These grazing incidence designs tend to suffer from severe aberrations and at these very short wavelengths scattering effects from residual optical fabrication errors are another major source of image degradation. The fabrication of precision optical surfaces for grazing incidence X-ray telescopes thus poses a great technological challenge. Both the residual "figure" errors and the residual microroughness or "finish" of the manufactured mirrors must be precisely measured, and the image degradation due to these fabrication errors must be accurately modeled in order to predict the final optical performance of the as manufactured telescope. The fabrication process thus consists of a series of polishing and testing cycles with the predictions from the metrology data of each cycle indicating the strategy for the next polishing cycle. Most commercially available optical design and analysis software analyzes the image degradation effects of diffraction and aberrations, but does not adequately model the image degradation effects of surface scatter or the effects of state-of-the-art mosaic detectors. The work presented in this dissertation is in support of the Solar X-ray Imager (SXI) program. We have developed a rigorous procedure by which to analyze detector effects in systems which exhibit severe field-dependent aberrations (conventional transfer function analysis is not applicable). Furthermore, we developed a technique to balance detector effects with geometrical aberrations, during the design process, for wide-field applications. We then included these detector effects in a complete systems engineering analysis (including the effects of diffraction, geometrical aberrations, surface scatter effects, the mirror manufacturer error budget tree, and detector effects) of image quality for the five SXI telescopes being fabricated for NOAA's next generation GOES weather satellites. In addition we have re-optimized the remaining optical design parameters after the grazing incidence SXI mirrors have been imperfectly fabricated. This ability depends critically upon the adoption of an image quality criterion, or merit function, appropriate for the specific application. In particular, we discuss in detail how the focal plane position can be adjusted to optimize the optical performance of the telescope to best compensate for optical figure and/or finish errors resulting from the optical fabrication process. Our systems engineering analysis was then used to predict the increase in performance achieved by the re-optimization procedure. The image quality predictions are also compared with real X-ray test data from the SXI program to experimentally validate our system engineering analysis capability.


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Graduation Date





Harvey, James


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics

Degree Program









Release Date

May 2005

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)