The goal of this project is to develop and demonstrate a compact, modular adaptive optics system with a beaconless wavefront sensor that advances NASA’s vision for ultra-low-cost, precision optical systems for CubeSats through the mitigation of adverse effects on imaging quality associated with cost and schedule reduction strategies in the design, manufacturing, and testing of optical components.
Space-based telescopes have become an indispensable tool for exploring the universe, understanding the Earth’s environment, and monitoring and planning human activity. CubeSats have emerged as a rapid, affordable alternative to large satellites for the scientific community and industry to perform space-based observations. Despite cost and schedule reductions for CubeSat platforms and launches in recent years, the cost and schedule of precision optical systems for CubeSats remains prohibitive for many applications. This discrepancy is largely due to the long fabrication and testing times of extremely precise, stable, and often custom optical components and assemblies.
Nanohmics, Inc. proposes to develop and test a low-cost adaptive optics system for CubeSat telescopes based on its passive wavefront sensor and a deformable mirror with the goal of improving imaging performance and enabling the use of components with previously unacceptable design and manufacturing tolerances. The system will be readily customizable to support a wide range of optical prescriptions and to support features relevant to deployable and segmented designs. Advanced deconvolution and super-resolution algorithms will further refine wavefront corrections and improve image resolution. During the Phase I program, Nanohmics will establish system requirements for representative low-cost CubeSat telescopes, perform a design trade study, and develop manufacturing and testing plans. The feasibility of the approach will be demonstrated by constructing and characterizing a breadboard adaptive optics system.
The initial target market is Earth orbit scientific research within NASA SMD, particularly remote sensing and astronomical imaging. The adaptive optics for low-cost CubeSat optical systems will enable high quality imaging performance from ultra-low-cost optical components. CubeSats have been employed in NASA missions including Polar Radiant Energy in the Far Infrared Experiment (PREFIRE) and Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS).
Passive, extended-scene plenoptic wavefront sensors integrated into operational imaging turrets on-board ISR turrets for defense applications. Nanohmics sensors are part of an adaptive optics system designed to compensate optical aberrations induced by mechanical deformations during thermal transients. Additional uses are in environmental sensing and vision systems for self-driving vehicles.