Since 2013, the BRITE-Constellation fleet of five identical satellites has been providing forefront astronomical photometric data to the international research community. But currently, operations are fundamentally at risk for budgetary reasons, and quick help is needed because, under UN space law, satellites that are not operated, e.g. because public funding has run out, must be irrevocably shut down, even if they are still functioning. New financing must therefore be put in place to prevent this disaster.
Here we provide some detailed information (in English and German) about the highlights of BRITE-Constellation and its current status.
Review about BRITE-Constellation, its history and scientific highlights
BRITE-CONSTELLATION is devoted to high-precision optical photometric monitoring of bright stars, distributed all over the Milky Way, in red and/or blue passbands. Photometry from space avoids the turbulent and absorbing terrestrial atmosphere and allows for very long and continuous observing runs with high time resolution and thus provides the data necessary for understanding various processes inside stars (e.g. asteroseismology) and in their immediate envi- ronment. While the first astronomical observations from space focused on the spectral regions not accessible from ground it soon became obvious around 1970 that avoiding the turbulent terrestrial atmosphere improved significantly the accuracy of photometry and satellites explicitly dedicated to high-quality photometry were launched. A perfect example is BRITE-CONSTELLATION, which is the result of a very successful cooperation of Austria, Canada and Poland. Research highlights for targets distributed nearly over the entire HRD are presented, but focus primarily on massive and hot stars.
Here is a link to download the review paper.
Artikel in der Zeitschrift “Sterne und Weltraum” (deutsch)
Leuchtkräftige Sterne sind schwierig: Für Fotometrie mit großen Teleskopen sind sie zu hell, und ihre geringe Zahl macht konventionelle Lösungen unwirtschaftlich, besonders im Weltraum, wo die äußerste Präzision gegeben wäre. Mit einer Mini-Armada von Nanosatelliten haben Ingenieure und Astronomen aus Kanada, Österreich und Polen nun die Lösung gefunden – auch schon für viele wissenschaftliche Fragen.