NanoRacks-Ground-Based Sodium Laser Guide Star Imaging of 1U CubeSats (NanoRacks-Centennial-1) - 11.22.16

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Adaptive optics is a method of continually adjusting a telescope to correct for distortions caused by the atmosphere, and usually requires a guide star for calibration. But sufficiently bright stars are not available in all parts of the sky, so some adaptive optics systems use lasers instead. NanoRacks-Ground-Based Sodium Laser Guide Star Imaging of 1U CubeSats (NanoRacks-Centennial-1) demonstrates an adaptive optics system for ground-based tracking and identification of 10 centimeter CubeSats, improving imaging systems used to avoid satellite collisions.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Brian Gunderson, M.S., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer

Principal Investigator(s)
Brian Abbe, M.S., Booz Allen Hamilton, Belcamp, MD, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Brian Gunderson, M.S., Booz Allen Hamilton, Dayton, OH, United States

Developer(s)
Booz Allen Hamilton, McLean, VA, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory (NL)

Research Benefits
Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - September 2015

Expeditions Assigned
43/44

Previous Missions
Information Pending

^ back to top

Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Obtaining sufficiently detailed images of satellites using natural guide star adaptive optics from terrestrial telescopes has been difficult.
  • NanoRacks-Ground-Based Sodium Laser Guide Star Imaging of 1U CubeSats (NanoRacks-Centennial-1) images a 1U CubeSat sized object from the ground for Space Situational Awareness using optical imaging and a sodium laser guide star.
  • A sodium laser is used to correct for atmospheric distortion and improve image clarity in the telescope.
  • The laser does not image the object; therefore, the laser does not need to be pointed directly at the satellite during imaging and can be offset from the imaged object.
  • NanoRacks-Centennial-1 demonstrates that this imaging technique is safe to the satellite and does not impact operations through measurement of the laser energy by a photon detector positioned on the satellite.

Description

Sufficiently bright stars are not available in all parts of the sky, which greatly limits the usefulness of natural guide star adaptive optics. Instead, shining a laser into the atmosphere creates an artificial guide star. This star is positioned anywhere the telescope desires to point, opening up much greater amounts of the sky to adaptive optics. Sodium guide star lasers, along with improvements to the adaptive optics system sensitivity, makes it possible to reliably obtain satellite images with more accurate and precise details as an evolutionary step in development of space situational awareness technology.
 
NanoRacks-Ground-Based Sodium Laser Guide Star Imaging of 1U CubeSats (NanoRacks-Centennial-1) images a 1U CubeSat sized object from the ground for Space Situational Awareness using optical imaging and a sodium laser guide star. A sodium laser is used to correct for atmospheric distortion and improve image clarity in the telescope. The laser does not image the object; therefore, the laser does not need to be pointed directly at the satellite during imaging and can be offset from the imaged object. NanoRacks-Centennial-1 demonstrates that this imaging technique is safe to the satellite and does not impact operations through measurement of the laser energy by a photon detector positioned on the satellite.

^ back to top

Applications

Space Applications
This investigation tests sodium lasers as a guide star for adaptive optics systems used to track small satellites. The laser does not harm the satellite, but makes it possible to obtain more accurate and precise satellite images, an important step toward developing a tracking system for all natural and manmade objects orbiting Earth. Knowing where all objects are in relation to each other can help satellites avoid collisions. The investigation also demonstrates high-performance Advanced RISC Machines (ARM) based processors for data-intensive, short duration space missions.

Earth Applications
Earth is surrounded by hundreds of thousands of natural and artificial objects, which include tiny micrometeoroids and large satellites for telecommunications, weather, military use and other applications. Space situational awareness is the ability to view and predict the locations of these objects, with a goal of avoiding collisions. This investigation makes it possible to obtain images of very small satellites to improve space situational awareness efforts, heading off collisions and protecting satellites that benefit people on Earth.

^ back to top

Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

N/A

NanoRacks CubeSats are delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) already integrated within a NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD). A crew member transfers each NRCSD from the launch vehicle to the JEM. Visual inspection for damage to each NRCSD is performed. When CubeSat deployment operations begin, the NRCSDs are unpacked, mounted on the JAXA Multi-Purpose Experiment Platform (MPEP) and placed on the JEM airlock slide table for transfer outside the ISS. A crew member operates the JEM Remote Manipulating System (JRMS) – to grapple and position for deployment. CubeSats are deployed when JAXA ground controllers command a specific NRCSD.

^ back to top

Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

^ back to top

Results/More Information

Information Pending

^ back to top

Related Websites
NanoRacks
Booz Allen Hamilton

^ back to top


Imagery

image
NanoRacks-Ground-Based Sodium Laser Guide Star Imaging of 1U CubeSats (NanoRacks-Centennial-1) images a 1U CubeSat sized object from the ground for using optical imaging and a sodium laser guide star. Image courtesy of Booz Allen Hamilton.

+ View Larger Image