26 February 2003 StarLight mission: a formation-flying stellar interferometer
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Abstract
The StarLight mission is designed to validate the technologies of formation flying and stellar interferometry in space. The mission consists of two spacecraft in an earth-trailing orbit that formation-fly over relative ranges of 40 to 600m to an accuracy of 10 cm. The relative range and bearing of the spacecraft is sensed by a novel RF sensor, the Autonomous Formation Flyer sensor, which provides 2cm and 1mrad range and bearing knowledge between the spacecraft. The spacecraft each host instrument payloads for a Michelson interferometer that exploit the moving spacecraft to generate variable observing baselines between 30 and 125m. The StarLight preliminary design has shown that a formation-flying interferometer involves significant coupling between the major system elements - spacecraft, formation-flying control, formation-flying sensor, and the interferometer instrument. Mission requirements drive innovative approaches for long-range heterodyne metrology, optical design, glint suppression, formation estimation and control, spacecraft design, and mission operation. Experimental results are described for new technology development areas.
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Gary H. Blackwood, Gary H. Blackwood, Oliver P. Lay, Oliver P. Lay, William D. Deininger, William D. Deininger, MiMi A. Gudim, MiMi A. Gudim, Asif Ahmed, Asif Ahmed, Riley M. Duren, Riley M. Duren, Charley Noecker, Charley Noecker, Brian Barden, Brian Barden, } "StarLight mission: a formation-flying stellar interferometer", Proc. SPIE 4852, Interferometry in Space, (26 February 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.460942; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.460942
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