This New Satellite Imaging System Produces High-Res Images at Low Cost

The system comprises of a group of tiny satellites that act like a giant telescope.

Space exploration has been a fascinating subject for scientists as well as novices alike since times immemorial. For countless centuries, individuals have dreamt about leaving the confines of Earth and traveling beyond to other worlds.

There have been several encouraging discoveries in recent years that have enabled humans to understand the outer space significantly better. We have gone from absolutely no information about the other planet to actually indulge in space mining to find useful resources in space that can benefit humanity on the planet Earth.

An Attempt to Work with Satellites

A piece of news in 2016 about a collection of small satellites came up as a possible revolution in space exploration. Putting large objects or satellites into the orbit is an expensive affair.

This is precisely why several space missions have previously shifted from satellites weighing anywhere between 6000-16,000 pounds to smaller platforms that are as tiny as a baby’s fist. It is in this context that an assistant professor of astronautics and aeronautics at Stanford named Simone D’Amico intended to enhance the functionality and handiness of these tiny satellites.

The idea behind developing these relative navigation technologies was to make satellites fly in swarms or larger aggregations relative to one another.

The Possibilities of Space Telescope

Another breakthrough in the field of space exploration has come in the form of the same swarms of tiny satellites that would potentially mimic the function of a giant space telescope. Research suggests that there is a possibility of a group of tiny satellites to work together and create the perfect camera with curved mirrors.

Space Telescope
Source: BEN GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV

Angika Bulbul, a grad student who lead the research shared, “We found that you only need a small part of a telescope lens to obtain quality images. Even by using the perimeter aperture of a lens, as low as 0.43 percent, we managed to obtain similar image resolution compared to the full aperture area of mirror/lens-based imaging systems.”

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NASA Telescope Offers 360 Degree View of Milky Way

In a layman’s terms, this onslaught of technical jargon simply means that Bulbul and her team could get impressive results from the imaging system in space. In addition to that, several satellites working together as one unique entity naturally entails a higher level of precision because if one satellite fails to function properly, the other satellites can come to the rescue and save the day.

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Space Based Telescope
Source: Optica

This technique is especially useful as this avoids the necessity of putting all your eggs in one basket. As commented by Bulbul, “We can slash the huge cost, time and material needed for gigantic traditional optical space telescopes with large curved mirrors.”

Even though space telescopes come with a host of challenges and struggles to overcome and make them work, this new idea for a space telescope promises extreme precision. What’s left to be seen is how this journey into space exploration unfolds in the future!

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