Tiny MEMS Space Telescope on a Cubesat

DARPA deployed a cubesat that has a new mini-space telescope. DARPA’s Deformable Mirror (DeMi) CubeSat deployed from the International Space Station July 13 and uses a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) mirror for the space telescope.

The mirror changes shape to correct for the effects of temperature and mechanical changes on a space telescope which improves image quality.

The primary mirror of the DeMi telescope is about an inch wide, and the deformable mirror surface is about the size of a dime. The DeMi payload can observe stars with the telescope and use an internal laser for calibration measurements of the deformable mirror. When the payload observes stars, the deformable mirror will keep the star centered on the imaging camera. The MEMS mirror has 140 actuators, tiny moving surfaces that control the mirror shape. Calibration measurements will track the performance using about 50 actuators over time in the space environment.

Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

9 thoughts on “Tiny MEMS Space Telescope on a Cubesat”

  1. SpaceX should integrate this imaging into their Starlink satellites as compensation to astronomers. The fact these new vast constellations of satellites will be constantly updated offers a huge opportunity. It would also allow them to gather vast amounts of imagery within the solar system to plan missions.

  2. I think you are assuming that they can coordinate the telescopes precisely enough. i hope they can achieve something like that.

  3. It’s harder to knock down some forty-two thousand LEO devices in a time frame that is strategically useful.

  4. A high resolution actively corrected camera element is outstanding. A large number of these distributed throughout a constellation in LEO can view with the resolution of a telescope a thousand km in diameter. Multiple synchronous frames can be stacked to image enhance the final product further. Carry-on Space Force!

  5. According to the link embedded in the post:

    “Space telescopes currently in orbit are limited in ability to detect and distinguish small, dim objects next to large, bright objects – for example, dim exoplanets next to bright stars. Deformable mirrors have proven successful in ground-based applications, but their performance has not been tested in long duration space operations,” said Stacie Williams, the program manager for DeMi in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. “Our goal is to demonstrate the benefits of a MEMS deformable mirror to actively correct the images of distant objects in space.”

  6. I guess that is true, but they already have spy satellites pointed on Earth; what good would it do to publicise the existence of a satellite they would use to do something we would object to?

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