Spheres - Synchronized Position Hold Engage Re-orient Experimental Satellites
Two of the devices, which communicate with each other and a computer, were tested aboard NASA's KC-135 airplane in February 2000 and again in March. The KC-135 allows satellites (and researchers) to become essentially weightless for short periods of time. The team successfully operated two SPHERES at the same time inside the plane, and collected data that will help improve the devices.
"Rather than fly one large, expensive satellite, the idea is to network together several small ones, much like how computers progressed from large mainframes to networked PCs," said Associate Professor David W. Miller. The application of interest to the SPHERES team is a high resolution space telescope created by stringing several tiny satellites outfitted with mirrors across the sky. Professor Miller and Associate Professor Dava J. Newman, both of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, led the work.
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