Abstract

We report the design, construction, and operation of a multi-axis heterodyne interferometry (MAHI) system operating at MHz heterodyne frequencies, which provides a testbed for technologies to be used in the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) space-based gravitational wave mission. The system was calibrated for measurement of the piston, pitch, and yaw of a three-axis piezo-actuated mirror, giving measured calibration values that closely match those predicted by a simulation based on Gaussian beam tracing. The piston sensitivity of the MAHI system in the LISA band was measured to be below 10pmHz1/2 for frequencies above 4 mHz and below 1pmHz1/2 for frequencies above 35 mHz. The sensitivity is limited above 2 Hz by the mechanical vibrations of the apparatus and below 1 mHz by dimensional changes caused by temperature fluctuations. Evidence points towards scattered light as the limiting noise source at intermediate frequencies. The angular sensitivity of the MAHI system was measured to be close to or below 10nradHz1/2 for frequencies above 4 mHz and below 1nradHz1/2 for frequencies above 100 mHz. Noise budgets for both length and angle were determined, indicating the areas in which improvements must be made in order to reach increased sensitivity. The current operating sensitivity already provides a useful testbed for LISA technologies and a potential blueprint for future ground segment equipment.

© 2019 Optical Society of America

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