The first Polish scientific satellite BRITE-PL will help in understanding the inner structure of brightest stars in our galaxy

The institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Space Research Centre (SRC) and the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Centre (NCAC), both based in Warsaw,  in cooperation with the Astronomical Institute of Wroclaw University (AIUW) will carry out the first Polish scientific satellite mission. The Polish satellite will be a part of BRITE (BRIght Target Explorer) constellation. Polish institutes  joined  the BRITE consortium formed by 2 Canadian and 2 Austrian research institutions, the University of Montreal, University of Toronto, University of Vienna and Graz Technical University. The goal is to make photometric observations of some of the brightest stars in the sky. These observations will be about ten times more precise than any ground-based observations.

In the frame of BRITE-PL project two  satellites will be  built and launched till March 2013 and will provide the astro-seismological data of 286 brightest  stars on the sky. The funding  for Polish participation provided by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education amounts to €3.5M, which is the biggest scientific grant in space research awarded in Poland since 1989. Polish satellites will be a part of  6-satellite formation flying on 800 km orbit. Their lifetime  is predicted for at least 2 years.  BRITE satellites belong to the nano-satellite category and have a shape of a 20cm cube with a mass of 7 kg each. They are 3-axis-stabilized spacecraft with a precision better than  1 arc minute. Their scientific payload consists of  an optical telescope with a high resolution CCD. BRITE mission design is based on  CanX-class nanosatellite, built by the  Space Flight Laboratory at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies.  Polish engineers of SRC will contribute to the development of the payload (e.g., adaptation of the camera to the UV filter  and introducing FPGA technology to the on-board electronic system of the second satellite). The BRITE-PL mission will be operated from the ground  station built and managed by NCAC in collaboration with SRC engineers.  Science based on  BRITE-PL data will be carried out by Polish astronomers affiliated with NCAC and AIUW who are experienced in the field of astro-seismology due to their theoretical works and simulation models of bright stars, and by SRC scientists involved in  the research program related to possibility of detection of  star occultation  by Kuiper Belt Objects. The offer of Polish participation in BRITE consortium came from prof. Slavek Rucinski of the University of Toronto in Canada,  the  initiator  of BRITE mission.

Attached files
  • Structural/thermal model of BRITE-PL built in SRC PAS

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