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ASTERIA (Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics) is a technology demonstration and opportunistic science mission to advance the state of the art in CubeSat capabilities for astrophysical measurements. It is designed by the MIT and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

ASTERIA is the follow-on project to MIT's cancelled 3U CubeSat ExoplanetSat. The ASTERIA project is a collaboration with MIT and is funded at JPL through the Phaeton Program for training early career employees. JPL is responsible for overall project management, systems engineering, attitude determination and control, flight software, spacecraft implementation, integration and test, and mission operations. Flight hardware delivery is scheduled for summer 2016, with launch targeted for shortly thereafter.

The goal of ASTERIA is to achieve arcsecond-level line of sight pointing error and highly stable focal plane temperature control. These technologies will enable precision photometry, i.e. the careful measurement of stellar brightness over time. This in turn provides a way to study stellar activity, transiting exoplanets, and other astrophysical phenomena, both during the ASTERIA mission and in future CubeSat constellations.

ASTERIA is a 6U CubeSat, measuring roughly 10 cm × 20cm × 30 cm with a mass of 12 kg, that will operate in low-Earth orbit. The payload consists of a lens and baffle assembly, a CMOS imager, and a two-axis piezoelectric positioning stage on which the focal plane is mounted. A set of commercial reaction wheels provides coarse attitude control. Fine pointing control is achieved by tracking a set of guide stars on the CMOS sensor and moving the piezoelectric stage to compensate for residual pointing errors. Precision thermal control is achieved by isolating the payload from the spacecraft bus, passively cooling the detector, and using trim heaters to perform small temperature corrections over the course of an observation.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Technology
Operator: Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Space Systems Laboratory (MIT SSL), Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
Contractors: Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Space Systems Laboratory (MIT SSL), Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
Equipment: ACS, imager
Configuration: CubeSat (6U)
Propulsion: None
Power: deployable fixed solar arrays, batteries
Mass: 12 kg
Orbit: 400 km 400 km, 51.6 (typical)
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
ASTERIA - 2017 CCK LC-39A Falcon-9 v1.2 with Dragon CRS-12, CREAM, Kestrel Eye 2M, Dellingr, LAICE, RBLE, OSIRIS-3U, HARP, OPEN, Overview 1A