VISORS (Virtual Super-Resolution Optics Using Reconfigurable Swarms) is a multi-university 6U-CubeSat formation flying mission to image the sun in unprecedented high resolution, revealing energy release sites in the solar corona that are believe to be the source of coronal heating.
Comprised of two 6U CubeSats, the VISORS formation will image the solar corona at the resolution required to determine the existence of hypothesized heat-release bands that may explain why the corona exhibit unexpectedly large temperatures. By separating the telescope components across two spacecraft, the VISORS formation avoids the scaling problem which limits conventional coronal imagers and gathers high-quality imagery at a fraction of the cost.
The optics spacecraft (OSC) hosts the optics system of the telescope and serves as a sunshade to prevent unwanted solar radiation from entering the detector, which is hosted on the detector spacecraft (DSC). When aligned to collect imagery, the OSC and DSC form a sun-pointed distributed telescope and gather observations. This alignment occurs once per orbit when the CubeSats are in the science formation: a relative orbit in which the inter-spacecraft separation is approximately 40 m. After completing a set of observations, the formation will autonomously maneuver into an increased-separation standby formation for maintenance operations and data downlink. When an uplinked command is received, the formation will transfer into science formation and attempt a new set of observations.
The mission is a multi-university project including University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and a number of academic institutions are involved including the Georgia Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Washington State University, Ohio State University, Purdue University, the University of California San Diego, New Mexico State University, Montana State University, and the University of Colorado. Blue Canyon will provide a pair of 6U CubeSat buses and an Engineering Development Unit for this mission.
|Type / Application:||Research, solar|
|Operator:||University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign|
|Contractors:||University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (prime); Blue Canyon Technologies (bus)|
|Power:||2 deployable fixed solar arrays, solar cells, batteries|
|VISORS DSC||-||2023||with VISORS OSC, ?|
|VISORS OSC||-||2023||with VISORS DSC, ?|