Author: Silvano Fineschi
Affiliation: INAF – Astrophysical Observatory of Torino
Proba-3 is ESA’s – and the world’s – first precision formation flying mission. A pair of satellites will fly together maintaining a fixed configuration as a ‘large rigid structure’ in space to prove formation flying technologies.
The mission will demonstrate formation flying in the context of a large-scale science experiment. The paired satellites will together form a 150-m long solar coronagraph to study the Sun’s faint corona closer to the solar rim than has ever before been achieved.
Italy’s contribution by INAF to Proba-3 comprises the formation-flying metrology based on accurate radiometric measurements of the penumbra that the occulting-disk on the Sun-facing satellite creates on the Sun-shadowed coronagraph satellite. INAF will also define the optimum shape of the occulting-disk that minimizes the diffraction off the disk’s edge. The Italian contribution to the science payload consists in the development of the narrow-bandpass filters of the coronagraph for the observation of coronal line-emissions.