3 September 2008 CHIPS microsatellite optical system: lessons learned
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Abstract
The Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer (CHIPS) observatory launched on 12 January 2003, and was the first and only successful GSFC UNEX (NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center University Explorer class) mission. The UNEX program was conceived by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as a new class of Explorer mission charged with demonstrating that significant science and/or technology experiments can be performed by small satellites with constrained budgets and a limited schedule. The purpose of the observatory was to examine details of the local bubble thermal pressure, spatial distribution and ionization history. The observatory was also used to observe solar spectra, both scattered from the Lunar surface and via a fortuitous 2nd order scattering path. CHIPS confirmed that spectral features within the 90-260Å band were much dimmer than was predicted by contemporary theories, and operated four years beyond its design lifetime. The observatory was placed in an extended safe-hold mode in April of 2008 for budgetary purposes. The spectrometer consisted of six spectrograph channels which delivered >λ/100 resolution spectra to a single detector. Cost constraints of UNEX led to a design based on a traditional aluminum structure, and an instrument with a large field of view (5° x 26°). All optical and optomechanical systems on the spectrometer performed flawlessly on orbit. We discuss the challenges, difficulties and lessons learned during the design, fabrication and execution stages of the mission.
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M. J. Sholl, M. J. Sholl, Geoff Gaines, Geoff Gaines, Martin Sirk, Martin Sirk, Ellen Taylor, Ellen Taylor, Mark Hurwitz, Mark Hurwitz, "CHIPS microsatellite optical system: lessons learned", Proc. SPIE 7071, An Optical Believe It or Not: Key Lessons Learned, 707104 (3 September 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.799573; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.799573
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