Current ground projects
Electromagnetic Formation Flight (EMFF)
Electromagnetic Formation Flight. Until now, traditional thrusters have been proposed for formation flight attitude and positional control. However, there are several concerns with the use of thrusters, including plume contamination of neighboring spacecraft and sensitive optics, and the use of fuel as a nonrenewable energy source. Rather than thrusters, electromagnets could be used for formation flight control. Electromagnetic formation flight control has the potential to:
- Eliminate concerns about thruster plume impingement and optics contamination
- Control relative degrees of freedom, as opposed to the inertial degrees of freedom controlled by thrusters, and
- Rely on electricity provided by solar arrays, a renewable energy source, as opposed to thrusters whose finite fuel supply often limits the life of the spacecraft.
The objective of this research is to demonstrate the feasibility of an electromagnetically controlled array of formation flying satellites.
Distributed Satellite Systems
The Distributed Satellite Systems (DSS) program employs systems analysis and specialized dynamic modeling concurrently with experimental work. Satellite formations in low Earth orbit encounter perturbing gravitational forces due to deviations from spherical in the Earth's shape. MIT Space Systems Laboratory researchers are working on ways to linearize the models of these effects to allow more precise control of relative satellite positions in orbit.
Lightweight, Low Power Inexpensive Star Tracker Detail
Real-Time Wide Field of View Stereographic Image Capture, Storage, Broadcast and Playback Detail
Modular Optical Space Telescope (MOST) Poster
Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) Detail
Space Logistics Project: Interplanetary Supply Chain Management and Logistics Architecture Website