Cubesats and smallsats

Twinkle: A Small Satellite Spectroscopy Mission For The Next Phase Of Exoplanet Science

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
September 12, 2022
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Twinkle: A Small Satellite Spectroscopy Mission For The Next Phase Of Exoplanet Science
Twinkle can view targets that are within 40 ◦ of the ecliptic plane. Shown here are the currently-known transiting exoplanets. (purple), and planet candidates from TESS (yellow), that lie within Twinkle’s Field of Regard (FoR). The size of the points is correlated with the host star’s magnitude in the K band, with brighter stars appearing as large circles.

With a focus on off-the-shelf components, Twinkle is the first in a series of cost competitive small satellites managed and financed by Blue Skies Space Ltd. The satellite is based on a high-heritage Airbus platform that will carry a 0.45 m telescope and a spectrometer which will provide simultaneous wavelength coverage from 0.5-4.5 μm.

The spacecraft prime is Airbus Stevenage while the telescope is being developed by Airbus Toulouse and the spectrometer by ABB Canada. Scheduled to begin scientific operations in 2025, Twinkle will sit in a thermally-stable, sun-synchronous, low-Earth orbit.

The mission has a designed operation lifetime of at least seven years and, during the first three years of operation, will conduct two large-scale survey programmes: one focused on Solar System objects and the other dedicated to extrasolar targets. Here we present an overview of the architecture of the mission, refinements in the design approach, and some of the key science themes of the extrasolar survey.

Ian Stotesbury, Billy Edwards, Jean-Francois Lavigne, Vasco Pesquita, James J. Veilleux, Philip Windred, Ahmed Al-Refaie, Lawrence Bradley, Sushuang Ma, Giorgio Savini, Giovanna Tinetti, Til Birnstiel, Sally Dodson-Robinson, Barbara Ercolano, Dax Feliz, Scott Gaudi, Nina Hernitschek, Daniel Holdsworth, Ing-Guey Jiang, Matt Griffin, Nataliea Lowson, Karan Molaverdikhani, Hilding Neilson, Caprice Phillips, Thomas Preibisch, Subhajit Sarkar, Keivan G. Stassun, Derek Ward-Thompson, Duncan Wright, Ming Yang, Li-Chin Yeh, Ji-Lin Zhou, Richard Archer, Yoga Barrathwaj Raman Mohan, Max Joshua, Marcell Tessenyi, Jonathan Tennyson, Benjamin Wilcock

Comments: Presented at SPIE Astronomical Telescopes & Instrumentation 2022
Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2209.03337 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:2209.03337v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
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Journal reference: SPIE Proceedings Volume 12180, Space Telescopes and Instrumentation 2022: Optical, Infrared, and Millimeter Wave; 1218033 (2022)
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Submission history
From: Billy Edwards
[v1] Wed, 7 Sep 2022 17:50:35 UTC (4,198 KB)
full paper

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻