Cute data reduction pipeline: Validation and Support

Short Description

Starting point / motivation

The long-term evolution of a planetary atmosphere is predominantly controlled by escape, a process leading atmospheric gas to leave the planet's gravitational well and disperse into space. The ultraviolet (UV) transit observations of extra-solar planets (exoplanets) conducted so far led to the detection of a large variety of phenomena, but, at present, the theories explaining them by far exceed the number of relevant transit observations.

There is a whole wealth of phenomena, also variable in time, that requires a large observational effort to be understood, an effort that cannot be undertaken by the Hubble Space Telescope, which is our almost only UV “eye” and has now a limited life-time. Owing to the large size of the transiting atmospheres and short orbital periods of close-in planets, the physics of atmospheric mass-loss can be studied with a dedicated small instrument operating at near-UV wavelengths (250 - 320 nm).

The Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment (CUTE) is such an instrument: it is specifically designed to provide the kind of spectroscopic observations that are urgently needed to understand atmospheric escape. CUTE is scheduled for launch in September 2021.

Contents and goals

Following the development of the CUTE data simulator and data reduction pipeline, enabled by previous ASAP13 and ASAP14 awards, we request funding to carry out all necessary steps to test and validate the data reduction pipeline during commissioning and provide support in terms of data reduction during early science operations.

Therefore, we will focus on testing, eventually updating, and validating the data reduction pipeline using flight data. In this respect, we will focus on studying scattered light and instrumental systematic noise, and on devising strategies to correct for them. If CUTE launches between September and November 2021, this project will begin in November 2021, otherwise, with a later launch, the project will begin on the month of CUTE launch.

Project Partners


Austrian Academy of Sciences Institute for Space Research

Contact Address

Austrian Academy of Sciences Institute for Space Research
Dr. Luca Fossati
Schmiedlstraße 6
A-8042 Graz