Diagram of a proposed "SMART" Nano-Satellite.
(Image Source: Ben-Gurion University)
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
According to researchers at Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in Beersheva, Israel, a new “SMART” Nano-Satellite system could eliminate the need for multi-million dollar space telescopes in the future. In a research paper published in the 2018 December issue of the Optical Society of America's journal, Optica, high-resolution images, created through a coded aperture holography technique, would come through the combination of telescopic images from two nano-satellites.
The “SMART” (Synthetic Marginal Aperture with Revolving Telescopes) system involves two small satellites, separated in space and revolving in circular paths around a common axis, with a third sensing satellite combining astronomical images from the first two satellites. According to the researchers, the combined image would have a resolution equal to such an image from a much larger optical space telescope, but at a much lower capital cost.
Each of the proposed space telescope nano-satellites could be as small as a milk carton! Although the light-collecting ability of each small space telescope is much less than that of a larger space telescope, distances between the two space telescopes would provide an aperture larger than that of one large space telescope.
Using the coded aperture holography technique at the sensing satellite, the two incoming beams of light are sampled a few times per the rotation period of the two space telescope satellites, to create the research image.
The researchers also conclude that “several previous assumptions about long-range photography were incorrect.” Using a miniature laboratory model, the researchers found that, to obtain a high-resolution image from a space telescope, the entire aperture of a large telescope is not needed. By using a lens perimeter aperture as low as 0.43 per-cent, image resolutions were equivalent to those of much larger aperture telescopes.
"This is an invention that completely changes the costs of space exploration, astronomy, aerial photography, and more," says Angika Bulbul, a BGU Ph.D. candidate under the supervision of Prof. Joseph Rosen in the BGU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Internet Links to Additional Information ---
News Release - Ben-Gurion University:
Link >>> https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-01/aabu-nns010319.php
Angika Bulbul et al., Optica (2018); https://www.osapublishing.org/optica/fulltext.cfm?uri=optica-5-12-1607&id=403153
Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
Sunday, 2019 January 27.
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Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991. Formerly Trustee of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
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