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BRITE-Constellation: Nano-Satellites for Stellar Astrophysics Research: Why Centimeter-Class Telescopes in Space need Meter-Class Telescopes on Ground?

Dr. Rainer Kuschnig
Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria

November 5th, 2018


BRITE-Constellation (BRight Target Explorer) consists of six nano-satellites aiming to study of variability of the brightest stars in the sky. Austria, Poland, and Canada contribute two spacecraft each all launched into low earth orbits. The satellites have the same structure: they are 20 cm cubes, 7kg mass, with a CCD photometer fed by 3 cm aperture telescopes. The main difference between pairs of satellites is the instrument passband which set to blue (400-450nm) or red (550-700nm). The core scientific objective is to obtain high precision two color photometry, with a time base of up to 180 days, of stars brighter than 4.5 mag in order to study stellar pulsations, spots, and granulation, eclipsing binaries, search for planets and more.
Since the launch of the first two BRITE satellites in February 2013 more than 5 and a half years of experiences in space have been gathered to run the mission and a summary of lessons learned will be presented.  By now more than 20 peer-reviewed scientific articles have been published based on data collected by BRITE-Constellation satellites in space and most results presented therein benefitted greatly from supplementary spectroscopy by meter size telescopes obtained on ground.