Smallest space telescope ready for launch

Feb. 22, 2013 at 4:41 PM
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TORONTO, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Canadian researchers say they've completed preparing the world's smallest space telescope - a cube just 8 inches per side -- for launch.

Designed and built at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies, the smallest astronomical satellite ever built will launch Monday from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, a university release reported Friday.

The BRIght Target Explorer (BRITE) mission will see the Toronto satellite and a twin, also designed in Canada but assembled in Austria, launched in an attempt to prove even a very small telescope can add to astronomical knowledge, the researchers said.

The University of Toronto's Space Flight Laboratory developed the Canadian-built example of the satellite twins.

"SFL has demonstrated that nano-satellites can be developed quickly, by a small team and at a cost that is within reach of many universities, small companies and other organizations," Cordell Grant, the lab's Manager of Satellite Systems said. "A nano-satellite can take anywhere from six months to a few years to develop and test, but we typically aim for two years or less."

"Researchers, scientists and companies worldwide, who have great ideas for space-borne experiments but do not have the means to fund a large spacecraft, can now see their ideas realized," Grant said.

As their name suggests, the BRITE satellites will focus on the brightest stars in the sky including those in prominent constellations like Orion the Hunter.

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