Stellar Intensity Interferometry using Autonomous Nanosatellites

Coral Moreno Hirshfeld
Work towards M.Sc. degree in the Technion Autonomous Systems Program (TASP) Under the supervision of Assoc. Prof. Pini Gurfil and Dr. Erez Ribak
Faculty of Aerospace Engineering
Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

Stellar intensity interferometer (SII) has several distinct advantages over the Michelson stellar interferometer (MSI): accuracy and stability demands of the telescope position are lower by about five orders of magnitude, which enables measuring large baselines (mutual distances) and therefore get a higher resolution. Finally, low quality optics is sufficient. A major disadvantage of SII is its lower sensitivity, which means that longer integration times are required in order to get signal to noise ratio as in MSI.

Space-borne SII based on the nano-satellites is the next step. Such a system would offer much larger baselines than those made ​​possible on earth, i.e. improved resolution by several orders of magnitude. In addition, one can obtain much longer integration times, measure at wavelengths that are blocked by the atmosphere and flexibility in telescopes positioning.

The research goal is to develop the first autonomous space-borne SII. The interferometer will consist of three nano-satellites. Each nano-satellite will carry a telescope, which collects light into a photomultiplier detector and a transmitter to send the detector output to a ground station. Then a correlation is performed digitally in real-time, and the data processed in order to calculate the angular size of the star.

This work is the first step towards such a system. We designed SII installed on nano-satellites lab models, which are aimed to work as a dynamic and autonomous system. The system is still under development, we performed static experiments and measurements in order to test the system.

The talk will be given in Hebrew

Wed, 30-04-2014, 16:30 (Gathering at 16:00)

Classroom, ground floor, Library, Aerospace Eng.

Light refreshments will be served before the lecture

Stellar Intensity Interferometry using Autonomous Nanosatellites