SPHERES: a platform for formation-flight research
Saenz-Otero A, et al. (2005). "SPHERES: a platform for formation-flight research." Proceedings of SPIE 5899, UV/Optical/IR Space Telescopes: Innovative Technologies and Concepts II
New space missions, such as the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) and Darwin programs, call for the use of spacecraft which maintain precise formation to achieve the effective aperture of a much larger spacecraft. Achieving this requires the development of several new space technologies. The SPHERES program was specifically designed to develop a wide range of algorithms in support of formation flight systems. Specifically, SPHERES allows the incremental development of metrology, control, autonomy, artificial intelligence, and communications algorithms. To achieve this, SPHERES exhibits a wide array of features to 1) facilitate the iterative research process, 2) support experiments, 3)support multiple scientists, and 4) enable reconfiguration and modularity. The effectiveness of these aspects of the facility have been demonstrated by several programs including development of system identification routines, coarse formation flight control algorithms, and demonstration of tethered systems.