Paper IV of the LIFE paper series accepted for publication
Hansen et al. (arxiv link) revisits the studies of configurations and architectures that were taken in the days of Darwin/TPF-I, particularly to identify whether the X-array design is still the best choice for finding terrestrial and characterising planets. Using the kernel nulling formulation introduced in Martinache and Ireland, 2018, we run simulations to identify the signal-to-noise ratio for a large sample of hypothetical planets for various architecture and beam combination schemes. We find that five telescopes in a pentagonal formation, using a five aperture kernel-nulling scheme, outperforms the X-array by finding both more planets, and obtaining a larger signal faster when characterising planets. This is particularly the case when trying to detect Earth twins (temperate rocky planets in the habitable zone). We conclude by suggesting that kernel nulling beam combination schemes, particularly with five telescopes, be considered in future studies concerning the LIFE mission.