sfl logo
University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies
Space flight laboratory
...Big Performance, Smaller Satellites

CanX-3 / BRITE-Constellation: Mission

January 25, 2014

By Prof. Anthony Moffat, Canadian Principal Investigator, BRITE-Constellation
briteFamily

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. 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 also contribute to the ecology of the Universe only at the end of their lives, when they brighten by factors of a thousand and shed off their tenuous outer layers.

BRITE-CA

canx-3BRITEpatchA group of 7-kg, 20x20x20cm nanosatellites in space, called BRITE (BRIght Target Explorer) Constellation, will capture the light shed by luminous stars and in turn shed light on their structures and histories, uncovering unique clues to the origins of our own Sun and Earth. The BRITE Constellation will be a cost-effective fleet of six nanosatellites based on pioneering Canadian space technology developed at SFL, built in partnership with Austrian and Polish space scientists. The BRITE nanosats will survey the sky, measuring the brightness and temperature variations of the brightest stars on timescales ranging from hours to months. The photometric data of luminous stars will provide time series with unprecedented accuracy that cannot be obtained from the ground due to limitations imposed by the terrestrial atmosphere. BRITE Constellation will investigate the role stellar winds play in setting up future stellar life cycles, and reveal pulsations that will allow astronomers to probe luminous star histories and ages through asteroseismology.

Each BRITE nanosat will carry a telescope and detector with a large field of view (~24 degrees across) that can monitor multiple target stars, so that differential photometry can be obtained both in brightness and color with precision better than 0.1% for a single observation. The Constellation of BRITE nanosats offers an order-of-magnitude improvement in science return over a single nanosat, since it allows the use of two different filters and provides superior time and sky coverage.

BRITE Constellation will also be able to collect this quality of data on a wide variety of other bright star types and phenomena. For example, the detection of exoplanetary transits around other stars will put our own planetary system in context, and the pulsations of red giants will test and refine models of the eventual fate of the Sun.

BRITE Constellation will be the first network of satellites devoted to a fundamental problem in astrophysics, extending and supplementing the spectacular success of the Canadian MOST microsatellite into the domain of nanosats and providing on-orbit experience for future coordinated satellite networks. 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.

canx3-labeled

Mission Partners

canx3_partners

LATEST NEWS

CanX-7 Aircraft Tracking and Deorbiting Demo Satellite Launched, Contacted, and Healthy
Sep 26 2016
GHGSat-D (CLAIRE) Bus Commissioning Ahead of Schedule
Jun 27 2016
M3MSat Launched and Successfully Contacted
Jun 22 2016
GHGSat-D (CLAIRE) Launches Successfully and First Contact Indicates Good Health
Jun 22 2016
Deep Space Industries and SFL selected to provide satellites for HawkEye 360’s Pathfinder mission
May 26 2016
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) to Provide LEO Bus to SSL
May 10 2016
NORSAT-1 Launch Postponed Due to Faulty Bracket Provided by Arianespace
Apr 14 2016
BRITE-Constellation Sees Stars in a New Light
Feb 05 2016
Deep Space Industries Teams with UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory to Demonstrate Autonomous Spacecraft Maneuvering
Jan 26 2016
exactView-9 Launched Successfully and Contacted
Sep 28 2015
SFL’s Josh Newman Wins 1st Place in Small Satellite Student Competition for CanX-4 and CanX-5 Formation Flying Mission Contribution
Aug 12 2015
NORSAT-2 Contract Awarded to SFL by Norwegian Space Centre
Jul 13 2015
CanX-4&5 Formation Flying Mission Accomplished
Nov 05 2014
CanX-4 & CanX-5 Formation Flying Mission, One Month in Space
Jul 30 2014
Space Flight Laboratory Launches Five Satellites in Two Weeks
Jul 08 2014
AISSat-2 Successfully Launched
Jul 08 2014
Update on BRITE-Toronto and BRITE-Montreal
Jul 03 2014
Indian rocket successfully launches two Canadian satellites
Jun 30 2014
Two low-cost, car battery-sized Canadian space telescopes launched today
Jun 19 2014
UniBRITE and BRITE-Austria Commissioned and Operating Successfully
Feb 25 2014
Canadian Space Agency Awards Propulsion System Development Contract to SFL
Dec 02 2013
BRITE-PL1, WNISat-1, and GOMX-1 Launch Successfully
Nov 21 2013
Norwegian Space Centre Awards AISSat-3 Project to SFL
Jul 08 2013
SFL Wins Contract for First Norwegian Science Satellite – NORSAT-1
Jun 14 2013
UniBRITE Achieves Arcminute-Level Fine Pointing for First of its Kind Space Astronomy Mission
Jun 09 2013
Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Demonstration Satellite Contract Awarded
May 01 2013
Next Generation Automatic Identification System Satellites to be Developed under Communitech Program
Apr 19 2013
World's Smallest Astronomy Satellites In Orbit! (Toronto Star Article)
Feb 25 2013
Austrian BRITE Satellites Launched Successfully and Healthy! (Globe and Mail article)
Feb 25 2013
Microsatellite Science and Technology Centre (MSTC) Opens its Doors to the World
May 25 2012
Canadian Space Agency Awards Micro-mission Cluster Pilots Project to SFL
Mar 28 2012
SPACE-SI Awards NEMO-HD Contract to SFL
Dec 22 2011
Canada adds two satellites to BRITE Constellation
Jan 19 2011
AISSat-1 celebrates six months of success on-orbit, first nanosatellite with high performance pointing
Jan 12 2011
Norway signs AISSat-2 deal
Jan 06 2011
New Microsatellite Science and Technology Center (MSTC) planned for completion in late 2011
Dec 15 2010
CanX-7 Deorbiting Demonstration Mission Awarded Funding
Oct 28 2010
SFL-Built AISSat-1 Reaches Orbit and Confirmed Healthy
Jul 12 2010
CanX-2 Team wins the 2010 CASI Alouette Award
May 04 2010
UTIAS-SFL Trailblazing Small Satellite Technology (Space News)
Apr 20 2009
'Space News' Reports on "Trailblazing Small Satellite Technology" At SFL
Apr 20 2009
Rapidly Developed Ship-Tracking Satellite Approaches One Year On Orbit
Mar 02 2009
Big Science From Canada's Smallest Satellite
Mar 02 2009
NLS-4 Launch Rescheduled: Set for March 2008 on the Antrix PSLV
Jun 10 2008
MOST Team Wins Alouette Award 2008
Jun 10 2008
NLS-5 Launch Scheduled: for Q2 2008 on the Antrix PSLV
May 08 2008
NLS-4 Launch Scheduled - June 30, 2007: Antrix PSLV
Jun 30 2007
Canadian Space Gazette: The Canadian Advanced Nanospace eXperiment 2
Aug 01 2006
RCI Lecture: The MOST Space Telescope: Big Science on a Small Platform
Feb 13 2006
Toronto Star: Canada leads cosmic search for new Earth - January 12, 2006
Jan 12 2006
View All News Articles
© 2014 University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies Space Flight Lab. All rights reserved.