Tiny satellites can be "Guide Stars" for massive space telescopes


Space Gaze

NASA's long-term plans for space telescopes are quite large, as next-generation telescopes will be massive.

There are more than 3,900 confirmed planets throughout our solar system. To know more about the planets, as if they have oxygen, water, or other signs of life, we need bigger telescopes with their sensitive instruments and mirrors as big as those on earth.

Telescope is a massive introduction of new challenges that will keep their components stable enough to get a good look at foreign objects. A new study was published this week Astronomical Journal Writing a system that would use a second satellite as a laser light pointer to help large telescope locks on remote objects.

Laser Light Show

NASA is already planning the future of space telescope. The delay-plagued James Webb telescope is designed with a 6.5-meter diameter and 18-hexagonal mirror segments. The size of the telescope can be as much as 15 meters, with over 100 mirror segments. Keeping all the mirrors in line, one of the major challenges for segmented mirror telescopes. The tiniest component shift would be enough to completely throw off measurements.

Now, with engineers suggesting using a second, shoebox-sized satellite as a "leader star", they provide a bright light for telescope use as a reference point. By putting the lights in a telescope's field of view, the telescope would be better to detect any shift in its instruments and stay more securely pointed in its goal. Such a system is already possible with today's technology and would relax the need for perfection in mirror alignment, saving time, money, and potential preventing delays like those web hosting the James Webb Telescope.

Look forward

The idea of ​​using artificial light as a reference point takes inspiration from the road as Earth-based assailants use real stars for much the same purpose for over a century. This is the first time a tiny cubeeat may be used to replicate the process.

"The reason it is pertinent now, that NASA had to decide in the next couple of years whether the big space telescopes will be our priority in the next few decades," said Evan Douglas, lead author of the paper. "What decision making is now, as the decision-making for the Bubble Space Telescope happened in the 1960s, but it didn't launch until the 1990's."

READ MORE: Tiny satellites may be "leader stars" & # 39; For next-generation telescopes [EurkAlert]

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