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Project: Miniaturized Distributed Occulter-Telescope Mission (mDOT)

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The Miniaturized Distributed Occulter/Telescope (mDOT) mission will provide the very first direct, precise measurements of brightness and spectra of extrasolar dust disks in the near ultraviolet spectrum, allowing scientists to better understand star emission models and processes behind planet formation. It is also a technological pathfinder for future missions utilizing starshades.

mDOT employs novel orbit design and spacecraft control techniques to enable a smallsat starshade formation-flying mission in low Earth orbit. One small satellite carries a 3m starshade and deploys a CubeSat carrying a 9cm telescope. The starshade uses extremely precise formation-flying to block the light of nearby stars, allowing the telescope to image stellar dust disks with unprecedented sensitivity.

The Stanford Space Rendezvous Laboratory (SLAB) has developed novel mission, orbit and formation designs which allow mDOT and other starshade concepts to be deployed in Earth orbit, reducing mission costs by orders of magnitude. SLAB will employ its DiGiTaL navigation system to provide the centimeter-level relative navigation accuracy required for precise observations, as well as new optimal control techniques enabling efficient formation reconfigurations and target observation campaigns.

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Related Publications

Koenig, A. W., D'Amico, S.;
Fast Algorithm for Fuel-Optimal Impulsive Control of Linear Systems with Time-Varying Cost;
IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control (2021). DOI: 10.1109/TAC.2020.3027804

Peretz E., Mather J., Hall K., Pabarcius L., Canzoniero C., Gilchrist K., Lierber-Kotz M., Slonaker R.,Yu W., Hughes S., Hur-Diaz S., Koenig A., D'Amico S.;
Exoplanet imaging scheduling optimization for an orbiting starshade working with Extremely Large Telescopes;
Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems 7(2), 021213 (2021). DOI: 10.1117/1.JATIS.7.2.021213

D'Amico S., Koenig A., Macintosh B., Mauro D.;
System Design of the Miniaturized Distributed Occulter/Telescope (mDOT) Science Mission;
33rd Annual Conference on Small Satellites, Utah State University, August 3-8 (2019).

Koenig A. W., Macintosh B., D'Amico S.;
Formation Design of Distributed Telescopes in Earth Orbit for Astrophysics Applications;
Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets (2019). DOI: 10.2514/1.A34420

Koenig A.;
Formation Design of Distributed Telescopes in Earth Orbit with Application to High-Contrast Imaging;
Stanford University, PhD Thesis (2019).

D'Amico S.;
Miniaturized Distributed Occulter/Telescope (mDOT);
Mission Fact Sheet, Stanford Space Rendezvous Lab (SLAB), July 16 (2019).

Beierle C., Norton A., Macintosh B., D’Amico S.;
Two-Stage Attitude Control for Direct Imaging of Exoplanets with a CubeSat Telescope;
SPIE 2018 Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation, Austin, Texas, June 10-15 (2018).