2019.B.1.2. SUPER-SHARP: The route to metre class CubeSat space telescopes for Astronomy, Space and Planetary Science


George Hawker (1)
Ian Parry (1)
Michael Johnson (1)
Richard Jakab (1)
Karia Dibert (1)

  1. Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, U.K.




Space Telescope, CubeSat, Deployable Structures


With interplanetary CubeSat missions beginning to venture to the Moon and Mars and with further interplanetary CubeSat missions in development, there is an urgent need to overcome the traditional ‘aperture limit’ of such nanosatellites to unlock an order of magnitude improvement in their utility for science and exploration.

SUPER-SHARP (Space-based Unfolding Primary for Exploration and Research via Spectroscopic High Angular Resolution Photography) is a low mass, unfolding, self-aligning telescope which will enable metre-class apertures from CubeSat compliant platforms with a typical capability of sub-metre ground resolution from a 3U CubeSat from 400km. The technology is scalable, enabling a 5-10x increase of the conventional aperture limit for a given platform and is based upon active optics methods commonly used in ground-based Astronomy. The prototype is currently being assembled and extensively simulated, with flight hardware for an on-orbit technology demonstration mission to follow shortly.

Applications for interplanetary missions could include reconnaissance orbiters or fly by missions around asteroids, comets, the Jovian Moons, Saturn’s Rings and other solar system bodies. Such missions would return high resolution imagery of immense value for planetary/solar system science and in planning follow up surface exploration such as rover, lander or impactor missions.


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