Space Technology 7's Disturbance Reduction System (DRS) is system-level technology that will enable spacecraft control with nanometer precision. Successfully validated DRS technology will be used in future separated-spacecraft interferometer missionsmissions involving multiple spacecraft, flying in formation, with instruments that use waves of light to determine distances or wavelengths. On such missions, DRS position-measurement technology can be used to:
- test theories of gravity, including general relativity
- map the gravity fields of the Earth or other planets to study properties of planetary crust and ocean currents
- detect cosmic gravitational waves, which are ripples in space-time generated by massive objects
Following the New Millennium Program's validation, DRS technology will be used on the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) space science mission. LISA is the first dedicated in-space gravitational-wave observatory, with the primary objective to detect and make measurements of Einstein's predicted gravitational waves. There is also a preliminary plan to use the DRS in the future EX-5 mission, which will map the Earth's variable gravity field. Spacecraft-position control with nanometer precision is also of interest to other missions that won't study gravity as their prime objective.
The capability of controlling spacecraft positions to the nanometer level simplifies the optics for visible and infrared interferometry missions. And, separated-spacecraft interferometers require the control of mirror position at nanometer precision. With such precision, fine control of mirrors measuring visible and infrared wavelengths can be done in stages. The DRS position-control technology may enhance mission performance and reduce mission cost. This technology will be validated for use in:
- gamma-ray or x-ray separated spacecraft interferometers future missions, such as the microArcsecond X-ray Imaging Mission (MAXIM)
- optical and infrared separated seacraft interferometry missions, such as the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) mission
Since NASA was formed in 1958, the commercially significant technologies developed in the course of mission research have been shared with industry to solve engineering and manufacturing problems. The DRS technology may contribute to the development of commercial products.
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