Toward the Ground-based Imaging of Satellites at Geosynchronous Altitude
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC
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To image satellites at geosynchronous altitude requires a telescope aperture of 50 to 200 meters, depending on the choice of wavelength and required resolution. Building such a facility is an expensive, lengthy undertaking and is probably a couple of decades away. Interferometry has been proposed as an alternative and although it looks promising on paper, so far it has failed to deliver. In the astronomical community aperture masking - an interferometric imaging techniques - consistently produces higher-quality images than a camera with adaptive-optics. Sadly, separated-aperture interferometry lags further behind but their image quality is improving as the number of apertures increases. A bigger problem is poor sensitivity. We understand the light loss-issues and can increase the sensitivity by mitigating these problems and by using larger telescopes with adaptive optics. In this paper, we argue for a design consisting of 30 identical telescopes mounted on a steerable boom. The telescopes feed optical fibers which in turn feed the beam combiner. We present optical and mechanical designs along with a sensitivity analysis. We discuss the applicability of this system to imaging satellites.
- Unmanned Spacecraft