(ORDO NEWS) — Launched from the International Space Station in November 2017, the tiny ASTERIA spacecraft set a very serious goal – namely, to prove that small telescopes are capable of performing some of the most difficult tasks that only larger space observatories can do. But he did something more.
A new article, which will be published shortly in the Astronomical Journal, describes how ASTERIA (short for Arcsecond Space Telescope, which allows research in astrophysics) not only demonstrated that it can perform tasks entrusted to the satellite, but do something more. We are talking about the exoplanet 55 Cancri e, which was discovered by this space telescope.
55 Cancri e is a planet that has a red-hot surface (close to its star) and about two times the size of Earth. Despite the fact that scientists already knew the location of the planet, this discovery made it possible to test the capabilities of ASTERIA. The tiny spacecraft was not originally intended for such scientific discoveries.
The main objective was to demonstrate technology for the development of future missions. The creation of a small space one that is capable of accurately pointing the telescope and focusing on the object for long periods is, in fact, a real technological leap.
A team of scientists from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were far ahead of their time when they developed new instruments and equipment, overcoming existing technological barriers to creating payloads.
Despite the fact that the mission of the tiny ship meant only 90 days of work, it was repeatedly extended. Only in December last year, communication with the ASTERIA spacecraft was lost.
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