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.

Constellation, Extrasolar planet, Interferometric, Resolution, Robotic manipulator, Telescope
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.