BRITE-AUSTRIA - Operations Phase IIb & III

The BRITE (BRIght Target Explorer) mission aims at the long-term investigation of the brightness variation of massive, luminous stars by differential photometry.

Short Description

Funded by the Austrian Space Applications Programme the first Austrian satellite BRITE-Austria/TUGSAT-1 has been designed and built. It is currently undergoing unit-level and qualification tests at Graz University of Technology.

The nanosatellite utilises recent improvements in three-axis stability control by pioneering Canadian space technology to the level of 1 arc-minute. This is achieved by miniature momentum wheels and a combination of star tracker, sun sensors and a magnetometer as attitude sensors, opening up a totally new domain of miniature, low-cost spacecraft for astronomy and other high-precision space missions. The nanosatellite carries a small astronomical camera with a large field-of view as payload.

The spacecraft will be launched on a Polar Services Launch Vehicle (PSLV) of ISRO/ANTRIX from Southern India scheduled for the begin of Q3 in 2011. The parameters of an 800 km sun- synchronous orbit with 0600 LTAN are ideal for the scientific goal.

  • Phase IIb (ASAP 5) of the project was mainly concerned with the development of the first part of the science and ground segment control software. In addition, a mission analysis was performed, including science goals and targets, payload and spacecraft design, mission design and launcher, and ground segment and operations.
  • Phase III (ASAP 6) deals with the launch integration and the command software development. The activities concerning the launch include the acceptance testing, the transport of the satellite to the launch site, the prelaunch testing and final integration on the rocket. Furthermore, software modules for converting the observation parameters into satellite commands (including attitude and camera settings) are developed.

The project involves master and PhD students to a significant extent. This enables students to get hands-on experience in design, manufacturing, testing and operations of a spacecraft as well as management of space projects. The project management and key developments are carried out by faculty staff of the universities to ensure timeliness and sustainability after the project for future missions.

Project Partners


Graz University of Technology, Institute of Communication Networks and Satellite Communications - Prof. Otto Koudelka


University of Vienna, Institute of Astronomy - Prof. Werner W. Weiss

Contact Address