Better Imagery with New Low-Cost Nanosatellite System

Researchers at the Ben-Gurion University have created a new satellite imaging system that could transform the economics and imagery available from space-based cameras as well as from Earth-based telescopes.

“This is an invention that completely changes the costs of space exploration, astronomy, aerial photography, and more,” says Angika Bulbul, a BGU Ph.D. candidate under the supervision of Prof. Joseph Rosen in the BGU Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The scientists prove in a paper published in the December issue of Optica that nanosatellites measuring the size of milk cartons set in a spherical (annular) configuration were capable of capturing images that match the resolution of the full-frame, lens-based or concave mirror systems used on present-day telescopes.

Several previous assumptions about long-range photography were incorrect. We found that you only need a small part of a telescope lens to obtain quality images. Even by using the perimeter aperture of a lens, as low as 0.43 percent, we managed to obtain similar image resolution compared to the full aperture area of mirror/lens-based imaging systems. Consequently, we can slash the huge cost, time and material needed for gigantic traditional optical space telescopes with large curved mirrors.

Angika Bulbul, BGU Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, BGU.

To establish the synthetic marginal aperture with revolving telescopes (SMART) system capabilities, the scientists constructed a tiny laboratory model having a circular array of sub-apertures to examine the image resolution and compare them with full lens imagery.

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