10 August 2016 End-to-end simulations and planning of a small space telescopes: Galaxy Evolution Spectroscopic Explorer: a case study
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Abstract
Large astronomical missions are usually general-purpose telescopes with a suite of instruments optimized for different wavelength regions, spectral resolutions, etc. Their end-to-end (E2E) simulations are typically photons-in to flux-out calculations made to verify that each instrument meets its performance specifications. In contrast, smaller space missions are usually single-purpose telescopes, and their E2E simulations start with the scientific question to be answered and end with an assessment of the effectiveness of the mission in answering the scientific question. Thus, E2E simulations for small missions consist a longer string of calculations than for large missions, as they include not only the telescope and instrumentation, but also the spacecraft, orbit, and external factors such as coordination with other telescopes. Here, we illustrate the strategy and organization of small-mission E2E simulations using the Galaxy Evolution Spectroscopic Explorer (GESE) as a case study. GESE is an Explorer/Probe-class space mission concept with the primary aim of understanding galaxy evolution.

Operation of a small survey telescope in space like GESE is usually simpler than operations of large telescopes driven by the varied scientific programs of the observers or by transient events. Nevertheless, both types of telescopes share two common challenges: maximizing the integration time on target, while minimizing operation costs including communication costs and staffing on the ground. We show in the case of GESE how these challenges can be met through a custom orbit and a system design emphasizing simplification and leveraging information from ground-based telescopes.
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Sara Heap, David Folta, Qian Gong, Joseph Howard, Tony Hull, Lloyd Purves, "End-to-end simulations and planning of a small space telescopes: Galaxy Evolution Spectroscopic Explorer: a case study", Proc. SPIE 9911, Modeling, Systems Engineering, and Project Management for Astronomy VI, 991117 (10 August 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2234249; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2234249
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