Science Principal Investigator: Steve Stochaj, Professor, Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering, NMSU
The space-based Virtual Telescope for X-ray Observations (VTXO) will consist of two 6U-CubeSats; one carrying a Phased Fresnel Lens and the second an X-ray sensitive camera. The two CubeSats will fly in precision formation to form a very long focal length (> 100 m) telescope: A Virtual Telescope. This is intended as a demonstration flight that will showcase the feasibility of the Virtual Telescope approach and raise the Technology Readiness Level to the point where the technique can be proposed for a much larger NASA mission. This multidisciplinary project involves researchers from New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico working in collaboration with researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The project addresses two Technology Areas from the NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Technology Roadmap: X-ray optics and multi-spacecraft formation flying, navigation, and control. The science enabled by this technology is closely tied to the Strategic Goals of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in the Heliophysics and Astrophysics Divisions. This project aligns with two areas listed in A Science and Technology Roadmap for New Mexico’s Future: 1) Challenge #4 Producing more technologists to satisfy projected workforce needs and 2) New Mexico’s Major Technology Clusters – Aerospace. In addition, this proposal supports the workforce needs of LANL, Sandia, AFRL and the Spaceport America.