BRITE-constellation: Nanosatellites for precision photometry of bright stars

W. W. Weiss, S. M. Rucinski, A. F.J. Moffat, A. Schwarzenberg-Czerny, O. F. Koudelka, C. Grant, R. E. Zee, R. Kuschnig, St Mochnacki, J. M. Matthews, P. Orleanski, A. Pamyatnykh, A. Pigulski, J. Alves, M. Guedel, G. Handler, G. A. Wade, K. Zwintz, M. Chaumont, S. ChoiC. Grant, T. Kallinger, J. Lifshits, B. Pablo, A. Popowicz, T. Ramiaramanantsoa, M. Rataj, P. Romano, J. Rowe, M. Unterberger, R. Wawrzaszek, G. Whittaker, T. Zawistowski, E. Zocłońska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BRITE-Constellation (where BRITE stands for BRIght Target Explorer) is an international nanosatellite mission to monitor photometrically, in two colours, the brightness and temperature variations of stars generally brighter than mag(V) ≈ 4 with precision and time coverage not possible from the ground. The current mission design consists of six nanosats (hence Constellation): two from Austria, two from Canada, and two from Poland. Each 7 kg nanosat carries an optical telescope of aperture 3 cm feeding an uncooled CCD. One instrument in each pair is equipped with a blue filter; the other with a red filter. Each BRITE instrument has a wide field of view (≈24°), so up to about 15 bright stars can be observed simultaneously, sampled in 32 × 32 pixels sub-rasters. Photometry of additional fainter targets, with reduced precision but thorough time sampling, will be possible through onboard data processing. The BRITE sample is dominated by the most intrinsically luminous stars: massive stars seen at all evolutionary stages, and evolved medium-mass stars at the very end of their nuclear burning phases. The goals of BRITE-Constellation are to (1) measure p- and g-mode pulsations to probe the interiors and ages of stars through asteroseismology; (2) look for varying spots on the stars surfaces carried across the stellar disks by rotation, which are the sources of co-rotating interaction regions in the winds of the most luminous stars, probably arising from magnetic subsurface convection; and (3) search for planetary transits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-585
Number of pages13
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Issue number940
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Astronomical Instrumentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Fields of Expertise

  • Sonstiges

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