Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Two low-cost, car battery-sized space telescopes launched

Date:
June 19, 2014
Source:
Universite de Montreal
Summary:
Two nanosatellites were launched from Russia by a Canadian research and technology team. Costing a fraction of conventional space telescopes and similar in size and weight to a car battery, the satellites are two of six that will work together to shed light on the structures and life stories of some of the brightest stars in the sky, uncovering unique clues as to the origins of our own Sun and Earth.

Two nanosatellites were launched from Yasny, Russia, at 15:11:11 Eastern Daylight Time today by Anthony Moffat, of the University of Montreal and the Centre for Research in Astrophysics of Quebec, and the Canadian research and technology team he leads. Costing a fraction of conventional space telescopes and similar in size and weight to a car battery, the satellites are two of six that will work together to shed light on the structures and life stories of some of the brightest stars in the sky, uncovering unique clues as to the origins of our own Sun and Earth. Together, the satellites are known as the BRITE-Constellation, standing for BRIght Target Explorer.
Credit: UTIAS - Space Flight Laboratory

Two nanosatellites were launched from Yasny, Russia, at 15:11:11 Eastern Daylight Time today by Anthony Moffat, of the University of Montreal and the Centre for Research in Astrophysics of Quebec, and the Canadian research and technology team he leads. Costing a fraction of conventional space telescopes and similar in size and weight to a car battery, the satellites are two of six that will work together to shed light on the structures and life stories of some of the brightest stars in the sky, uncovering unique clues as to the origins of our own Sun and Earth.

Related Articles


Together, the satellites are known as the BRITE-Constellation, standing for BRIght Target Explorer. "BRITE-Constellation will monitor for long stretches of time the brightness and colour variations of most of the brightest stars visible to the eye in the night sky. These stars include some of the most massive and luminous stars in the Galaxy, many of which are precursors to supernova explosions. This project will contribute to unprecedented advances in our understanding of such stars and the life cycles of the current and future generations of stars," said Professor Moffat, who is the scientific mission lead for the Canadian contribution to BRITE and current chair of the international executive science team.

Luminous stars dominate the ecology of the Universe. "During their relatively brief lives, massive luminous stars gradually eject enriched gas into the interstellar medium, adding heavy elements critical to the formation of future stars, terrestrial planets and organics. In their spectacular deaths as supernova explosions, massive stars violently inject even more crucial ingredients into the mix. The first generation of massive stars in the history of the Universe may have laid the imprint for all future stellar history," Moffat explained. "Yet, massive stars -- rapidly spinning and with radiation fields whose pressure resists gravity itself -- are arguably the least understood, despite being the brightest members of the familiar constellations of the night sky." Other less-massive stars, including stars similar to our own Sun, also contribute to the ecology of the Universe, but only at the end of their lives, when they brighten by factors of a thousand and shed off their tenuous outer layers.

BRITE-Constellation is in fact a multinational effort that relies on pioneering Canadian space technology and a partnership with Austrian and Polish space researchers -- the three countries act as equal partners. Canada's participation was made possible thanks to an investment of $4.07 million by the Canadian Space Agency. The two new Canadian satellites are joining two Austrian satellites and a Polish satellite already in orbit; the final Polish satellite will be launched in August.

All six satellites were designed by the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies -- Space Flight Laboratory, who also built the Canadian pair. The satellites are were in fact named "BRITE Toronto" and "BRITE Montreal" after the University of Toronto and the University of Montreal, who play a major role in the mission. "BRITE-Constellation will exploit and enhance recent Canadian advances in precise attitude control that have opened up for space science the domain of very low cost, miniature spacecraft, allowing a scientific return that otherwise would have had price tags 10 to 100 times higher," Moffat said. "This will actually be the first network of satellites devoted to a fundamental problem in astrophysics."

The nanosatellites will be able to explore a wide range of astrophysical questions. "The constellation could detect exoplanetary transits around other stars, putting our own planetary system in context, or the pulsations of red giants, which will enable us to test and refine our models regarding the eventual fate of our Sun," Moffatt explained.

The launch is wonderful news for all Canadians. This is firstly because BRITE-Constellation extends the leading positions in small satellite technologies and stellar astrophysics that the Canadian aerospace industry and scientific community already occupy. Secondly, as it targets the brightest naked-eye stars in the sky, the researchers anticipate that the project will have a special appeal to the wider public, including city dwellers and especially children and teens.

Notes Dr. Anthony Moffat is a professor emeritus of the University of Montreal's Department of Physics. He is a member of the Centre for Research in Astrophysics of Quebec and was appointed as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2001. He is the scientific mission lead for the Canadian contribution to BRITE. The University of Montreal is officially known as Universitι de Montrιal.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universite de Montreal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Universite de Montreal. "Two low-cost, car battery-sized space telescopes launched." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140619091917.htm>.
Universite de Montreal. (2014, June 19). Two low-cost, car battery-sized space telescopes launched. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140619091917.htm
Universite de Montreal. "Two low-cost, car battery-sized space telescopes launched." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140619091917.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) — Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

Soyuz Spacecraft Docks With International Space Station: NASA

AFP (Nov. 24, 2014) — A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Italy's first female astronaut safely docks with the International Space Station, according to NASA. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Multi-National Crew Safely Docks at Space Station

Multi-National Crew Safely Docks at Space Station

Reuters - US Online Video (Nov. 24, 2014) — A Russian Soyuz rocket delivers a multi-national trio to the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins