Spacecraft Formation Control with Direct Interferometer-Output Feedback
The Phase I research and analyses have confirmed the potential of wavefront sensing in providing the necessary information to accurately control interferometers. The concept involves data processing on the interferometer output signals to determine the adjustments required to achieve the desired interferometer performance. It is particularly valuable in advanced space interferometry missions where conventional metrology instrumentation may not be adequate in providing the necessary alignment data. The resulting information is useful in controlling the optical elements, and, in cases where the optical components are carried on separate spacecraft flying in formation, useful in controlling the spacecraft.The signal-processing and image-processing techniques developed in Phase I are relatively generic in nature. For Phase II research, the selection of a specific space interferometer mission concept is proposed to provide the basis for more-detailed development of the wavefront-sensing concept. A comprehensive control structure for the optical components and their host spacecraft will be designed to address the real-world control issues. New data-processing techniques will be developed to handle the realistic interferometer signals expected from operational deployment. High-fidelity test beds are considered for evaluation of the technologies.
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