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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

A deployable telescope for sub-meter resolutions from microsatellite platforms
Author(s): D. Dolkens; J. M. Kuiper

Paper Abstract

Sub-meter resolution imagery has become increasingly important for disaster response, defence and security applications. Earth Observation (EO) at these resolutions has long been the realm of large and heavy telescopes, which results in high image costs, limited availability and long revisit times. Using synthetic aperture technology, instruments can now be developed that can reach these resolutions using a substantially smaller launch volume and mass.

To obtain a competitive MicroSatellite telescope design, a concept study was performed to develop a deployable instrument that can reach a ground resolution of 25 cm from an orbital altitude of 500 km. Two classes of instruments were analysed: the Fizeau synthetic aperture, a telescope that uses a segmented primary mirror, and a Michelson synthetic aperture, an instrument concept that combines the light of a distributed array of afocal telescopes into a final image. In a trade-off the Fizeau synthetic aperture was selected as the most promising concept for obtaining high resolution imagery from a Low Earth Orbit.

The optical design of the Fizeau synthetic aperture is based on a full-field Korsch telescope that has been optimized for compactness and an excellent wavefront quality. It uses three aperture segments in a tri-arm configuration that can be folded alongside the instrument during launch. The secondary mirror is mounted on a deployable boom, further decreasing the launch volume.

To maintain a high image quality while operating in the harsh and dynamic space environment, one of the most challenging obstacles that must be addressed is the very tight tolerance on the positioning of the three primary mirror segments and the secondary mirror. Following a sensitivity analysis, systems engineering budgets have been defined.

The instrument concept features a robust thermo-mechanical design, aimed at reducing the mechanical uncertainties to a minimum. Silicon Carbide mirror segments, the use of Invar for the deployable arms and a main housing with active thermal control, will guarantee a high thermal stability during operations.

Since a robust mechanical design alone is insufficient to ensure a diffraction limited performance, an inorbit calibration system was developed. Post launch, a combination of interferometric measurements and capacitive sensors will be used to characterise the system. Actuators beneath the primary mirror segments will then correct the position of the mirror segments to meet the required operating accuracies. During operations, a passive system will be used. This system relies on a phase diversity algorithm to retrieve residual wavefront aberrations and deconvolve the image data. Using this approach, a good end-to-end imaging performance can be achieved.

Paper Details

Date Published: 17 November 2017
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 10563, International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2014, 105633G (17 November 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2304245
Show Author Affiliations
D. Dolkens, Delft Univ. of Technology (Netherlands)
J. M. Kuiper, Delft Univ. of Technology (Netherlands)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10563:
International Conference on Space Optics — ICSO 2014
Zoran Sodnik; Bruno Cugny; Nikos Karafolas, Editor(s)

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