2012.B.2.3 HiMARC 3D – High-speed, Multispectral, Adaptive Resolution Stereoscopic CubeSat


Ved Chirayath (1) and Brian Mahlstedt (1)

  1. Stanford University


B.2 – Technologies and Missions to Enhance Interplanetary CubeSat Science


telescope, stereographic imaging, multispectral, cubesat, apollo, aperture


I present a novel, low cost solution that addresses the fundamental aperture limitation of all current CubeSat-based imagers while providing rapid, multispectral, high-resolution stereographic imaging of terrestrial and astronomical targets using an unconnected array of four 3U synthetic aperture optical telescopes. With proprietary dithering algorithms, drizzle methods, lucky imaging and a new method of spatial oversampling and atmospheric lensing, HiMARC overcomes the atmospheric seeing problem to image terrestrial targets, surpass the optical diffraction limit and greatly increase the signal available for aperture-limited systems without the need for an aligned interferometric array. I provide unprecedented high-resolution images of planetary targets as captured from an 8’’ Earth-based amateur telescope using these techniques as proof of concept with lunar resolutions capable of resolving features left by the Apollo missions. This corresponds to a theoretical resolution of 5 cm for HiMARC looking at Earth from Low Earth Orbit. Through further ground testing, I demonstrate new technologies that allow for optical performance beyond the diffraction limit, potentially redefining modern optical telescope theory and obviating the need for future large aperture single-telescope missions. To explain observed features beyond the diffraction limit, I posit that turbulent eddies with large separation distances act as a synthetic aperture, effectively serving as a large aperture refracting element in the telescope’s optical path. These theories, with further development and implementation, may provide an order of magnitude resolution boost to existing ground and space-based telescopes at optical wavelengths without the need for new hardware. Each of the 3U CubeSats is designed with a 670 mm baseline synthetic aperture f/2 Ritchey–Chrétien optical system with zero deployables beyond a single hinge solar array and uses existing CubeSat buses and technology. Together, the constellation has the equivalent light gathering capability of a traditional 16’’ RC telescope while maintaining a 3U form factor and a highly fractionated design. Each satellite telescope is coupled to a monochrome CCD sensor, optimized for a particular optical bandwidth from IR (2000 nm) to optical to UV (200 nm). The constellation is capable of simultaneously imaging a target in multiple wavelengths, providing high-speed multispectral video for terrestrial and other high signal targets. Lastly, I discuss the stereographic imaging capability of the independent four-satellite telescope design and propose further ground tests using an array of amateur telescopes to stereograph lunar surface features and satellites.


  • Download slides in PDF format here
  • Low quality video available here


  • Optional paper not submitted

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