The BRITE constellation nanosatellite mission: Testing, commissioning, and operations

H. Pablo*, G. N. Whittaker, A. Popowicz, S. M. Mochnacki, Rainer Kuschnig, C. C. Grant, A. F.J. Moffat, S. M. Rucinski, J. M. Matthews, A. Schwarzenberg-Czerny, G. Handler, D. Baade, G. A. Wade, E. Zocłońska, T. Ramiaramanantsoa, M. Unterberger, K. Zwintz, A. Pigulski, J. Rowe, O. KoudelkaP. Orleański, A. Pamyatnykh, C. Neiner, R. Wawrzaszek, G. Marciniszyn, P. Romano, G. Woźniak, T. Zawistowski, R. E. Zee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

BRIght Target Explorer (BRITE) Constellation, the first nanosatellite mission applied to astrophysical research, is a collaboration among Austria, Canada and Poland. The fleet of satellites (6 launched; 5 functioning) performs precise optical photometry of the brightest stars in the night sky. A pioneering mission like BRITE-with optics and instruments restricted to small volume, mass and power in several nanosatellites, whose measurements must be coordinated in orbit-poses many unique challenges. We discuss the technical issues, including problems encountered during on-orbit commissioning (especially higher-than-expected sensitivity of the CCDs to particle radiation). We describe in detail how the BRITE team has mitigated these problems, and provide a complete overview of mission operations. This paper serves as a template for how to effectively plan, build and operate future low-cost niche-driven space astronomy missions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125001
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Volume128
Issue number970
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

Keywords

  • Instrumentation: Detectors
  • Methods: Data analysis
  • Methods: Observational
  • Space vehicles: Instruments
  • Stars: Oscillations (including pulsations)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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