Engineers of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have suggested that in the near future, large telescopes such as NASA's upcoming James Web Space Telescope will be replaced by small spacecraft working in the tand.
To study the outer planets of our Solar System, NASA's engineers are developing designs for the next generation space telescope. This includes "segmented" telescope, which consists of very small mirrors, once a large telescope can be assembled or stored to launch in space.
In order to keep these mega-scopes stable, MIT team said that small satellites can act as "guiding stars", and bring the laser back to the world to bring better, more accurate images to calibrate the system on the telescope.
By using laser light from another shoebox-sized spacecraft to stabilize the system, most telescopes rest on demand for accuracy, time and money are saved and allow more flexible telescope designs.
"This study suggests that in the future, we can create a telescope which is a little less stable, slightly less stable, but can use brighter sources in terms of maintaining stability," said Chief Douglas Evangelist. Postdoctoral student in MIT.
"If imperfection in telescope motor or gears is leading your telescope to track slightly faster or gradually, you can see your mentor chords on the crosshairs by the eye and you can keep it centered slowly in the long-term contact." Paper published in astronomical journal.
Douglass noted that a guide star can "travel" from one telescope to another, traveling from one star to another because the telescope converts its observational targets.
However, the distant spacecraft will need to travel thousands of miles in relation to the telescope at a distant place, as the telescope looks at the stars themselves.
Instead, the small fleet of guide stars is used entirely in the sky to help stabilize the telescope, and can be replaced, because it surveys multiple exponential systems, Douglas said.
It has also been shown in the study that the new laser guide design is possible with existing technologies, and that system can be fully fitted with a small size of a cubic foot.