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Paper: A Suitcase Full of Astrophysics: The MOST Microsat and Opportunities for Low-cost Space Astronomy
Volume: 338, Astrometry in the Age of the Next Generation of Large Telescopes
Page: 297
Authors: Matthews, J.
Abstract: The MOST (Microvariability & Oscillations of STars) microsatellite, launched in June 2003 aboard a reconditioned Russian ICBM, houses a 15- cm optical telescope and CCD camera. MOST performs photometry of bright stars (V < 6) with precisions as low as 1 micromagnitude, to detect subtle acoustic oscillations in stars and reflected light from exoplanets. Despite its low inertia (mass = 54 kg; dimensions 60 × 60 × 30 cm), MOST is achieving a pointing accuracy of better than 1 arcsec rms. This kind of stability on such a small platform and other innovative aspects of the MOST mission design may enable cost-effective approaches to other space astronomy applications, from NEO asteroid detection and tracking to perhaps, astrometry. Given the total MOST budget of about $10M, it is worth exploring these other possibilities. I'll describe the distinctive aspects of the MOST design and implementation, present some of the scientific results after a year of operation, and discuss the potential and challenge of applying MOST technology to space astrometry.
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