Science enabled by high precision inertial formation flying

Skinner, G.K., Dennis, B.R., Krizmanic, J.F. and Kontar, E.P. (2014) Science enabled by high precision inertial formation flying. International Journal of Space Science and Engineering, 1(4), pp. 331-348. (doi:10.1504/IJSPACESE.2013.059271)

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The capability of maintaining two satellites in precise relative position, stable in a celestial coordinate system, would enable major steps forward in a number of scientific disciplines and with a variety of types of instrumentation. The common requirement is for formation flying of two spacecraft with the direction of their vector separation in inertial coordinates very well controlled and also extremely well determined as a function of time. We consider here the scientific goals that could be achieved with such technology and review some of the proposals that have been made for specific developments and missions. Types of instrumentation that will benefit from the development of this type of formation flying include (i) imaging systems, in which an optical element on one spacecraft forms a distant image recorded by a detector array on the other (ii) systems in which the front spacecraft of a pair carries an occulting disk allowing very high dynamic range observations. The first group includes telescopes capable of very high angular resolution. Though usually requiring more than two spacecraft, another class of instrument, also aiming at very high angular resolution, (iii) interferometers, demands very much the same developments.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kontar, Professor Eduard
Authors: Skinner, G.K., Dennis, B.R., Krizmanic, J.F., and Kontar, E.P.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Journal Name:International Journal of Space Science and Engineering
ISSN (Online):2048-8467
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