Researchers design moonlight tracking device with NASA

NASA liked what it saw during a series of tests of a U of G-made robotic telescope mount. The device performed better than expected aboard a converted spy plane cruising at 70,000 feet.

The first-ever moonlight tracking device will improve the accuracy of numerous Earth-observing satellites.

A series of test flights took place in November. The device, known as ARTEMIS (Autonomous Robotic Telescope Mount Instrument Subsystem), exceeded expectations.

“We wanted to use pure moonlight to calibrate sensors on satellites,” said engineering professor Andrew Gadsden, co-principal investigator of an international research team that built the NASA-funded instrument.

Trained on the moon during flight, ARTEMIS will help satellites calibrate their sensors by measuring the amount of sunlight reflected by the moon.

Satellite sensors degrade over time. The moon provides a handy calibration reference to check whether satellites are recording actual changes on Earth or alterations in their sensors.