A technique based on the employment of a suite of onboard manipulators has been used to automatically adjust the configuration of free-flying telescopes, in order to maintain the constellation as a virtual optical bench. The goal was to simulate a sufficiently stable and accurate platforms for interferometric imaging. A mapping algorithm has been developed demonstrating the relationship between the robotic manipulators' configuration such that joint-level trajectories are deduced to move or re-position the robotic arm, resulting in a successful approach to accurately control the relative spacing between the interferometric platforms. Each interferometric platform represents a spacecraft bus mount to which one or more manipulators are mounted. No fuel is expended except for the initial configuration maneuvers. The imaging resolution of Proxima Centauri b was assessed and the types of features that could be detected.

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70th International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2019
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Ogundipe, C. (Collins), & Ellery, A. (2019). Imaging terrestrial extrasolar planets using submicron interferometric platforms. In Proceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC.