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Neptec UK to Build Satellite Optical Metrology System

Photonics.com
Jul 2015
HARWELL, England, July 14, 2015 — Neptec UK Ltd. will develop the High Accuracy Metrology System (HAMS) for the European Space Agency’s Proba-3 satellite mission, tentatively scheduled for launch in late 2018.

Proba-3
An artist's rendering of the Proba-3 satellites. Courtesy of ESA/P. Carril.
 
Proba-3 is the world's first precision formation flying mission for satellites. It consists of two satellites weighing 200 and 250 kg that will become a virtually fixed structure in space. The devices will stay 150 m apart during formation flying maneuvers, using the HAMS optical metrology system to maintain their positions with microscale accuracy.

The primary purpose of the mission is to study the sun's corona by creating the conditions normally only viewed during a solar eclipse. One satellite will block the rays of the sun, while the other studies the corona using an eclipsing mechanism. Researchers expect this to be the closest view of the corona that has ever been achieved.

Precision formation flying of satellites could benefit future flying missions, according to Neptec UK, by allowing small satellites to launch independently from Earth, be joined by HAMS technology in space, and form larger structures or platforms such as very large telescopes.

Neptec UK specializes in the development of space-qualified metrology instruments, IR cameras and other intelligent sensors.

For more information, visit www.neptecuk.com.


GLOSSARY
metrology
The science of measurement, particularly of lengths and angles.
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