The Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics (ASTERIA) was a 6-unit CubeSat technology demonstration mission that was built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and deployed from the International Space Station (ISS) on November 20th, 2017. After successfully completing its 90-day primary mission that demonstrated arcsecond-level line-of-sight pointing and focal plane thermal stability for exoplanet detection, it entered an extended mission performing onboard software demonstrations alongside science until end of mission in December 2019. At the end of its lifetime it was being used as a demonstration platform for several experiments, including low earth orbit (LEO) optical navigation operations. With its visible light astrometric camera and stable attitude control system, the ASTERIA spacecraft showed itself to be a capable platform for the imaging of geosynchronous satellites from LEO. This paper will describe the imagery attained in flight and also the image processing algorithms that were developed to render that imagery into navigation quality data. These algorithms dealt with hot pixel filtering, noise modeling, attitude registration, star signal rejection and satellite signal identification. Brightness prediction algorithms used for target selection will also be discussed.
Far more definitive information on composition is required to resolve the question of origin for the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos. Current infrared spectra of the objects are inconclusive due to the lack of strong diagnostic features. Definitive compositional measurements of Phobos could be obtained using in-situ X-ray, gamma-ray, or neutron spectroscopy or collecting and returning samples to Earth for analysis. We have proposed, in lieu of those methods, to derive Phobos and Deimos compositional data from secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) measurements by calibrating the instrument to elemental abundance measurements made for known samples in the laboratory. We describe the Phobos/Deimos Regolith Ion Sample Mission (PRISM) concept here. PRISM utilizes a high-resolution TOF plasma composition analyzer to make SIMS measurements by observing the sputtered species from various locations of the moons' surfaces. In general, the SIMS technique and ion mass spectrometers complement and expand quadrupole mass spectrometer measurements by collecting ions that have been energized to higher energies, 50-100 eV, and making measurements at very low densities and pressures. Furthermore, because the TOF technique accepts all masses all the time, it obtains continuous measurements and does not require stepping through masses. The instrument would draw less than 10 W and weigh less than 5 kg. The spacecraft, nominally a radiation-hardened 12U CubeSat, would use a low-thrust Solar Electric Propulsion system to send it on a two-year journey to Mars, where it would co-orbit with Deimos and then Phobos at distances as low as 27 km.
Here we describe the Primitive Object Volatile Explorer (PrOVE), a smallsat mission concept to study the surface structure and volatile inventory of comets in their perihelion passage phase when volatile activity is near peak. CubeSat infrastructure imposes limits on propulsion systems, which are compounded by sensitivity to the spacecraft disposal state from the launch platform and potential launch delays. We propose circumventing launch platform complications by using waypoints in space to park a deep space SmallSat or CubeSat while awaiting the opportunity to enter a trajectory to flyby a suitable target. In our Planetary Science Deep Space SmallSat Studies (PSDS3) project, we investigated scientific goals, waypoint options, potential concept of operations (ConOps) for periodic and new comets, spacecraft bus infrastructure requirements, launch platforms, and mission operations and phases. Our payload would include two low-risk instruments: a visible image (VisCAM) for 5-10 m resolution surface maps; and a highly versatile multispectral Comet CAMera (ComCAM) will measure 1) H2O, CO2, CO, and organics non-thermal fluorescence signatures in the 2-5 μm MWIR, and 2) 7-10 and 8-14 μm thermal (LWIR) emission. This payload would return unique data not obtainable from ground-based telescopes and complement data from Earth-orbiting observatories. Thus, the PrOVE mission would (1) acquire visible surface maps, (2) investigate chemical heterogeneity of a comet nucleus by quantifying volatile species abundance and changes with solar insolation, (3) map the spatial distribution of volatiles and determine any variations, and (4) determine the frequency and distribution of outbursts.