TWINKLE will use a 0.45 meter telescope to record spectra of stars transited by their exoplanets. By looking at tiny changes in the spectrum as the planet's atmosphere moves in front of the star, they hope to characterize exoplanet atmospheres a few hundred systems in visible light as well as infrared out to about 4.5 microns in wavelength.
From New Atlas' Twinkle mission to take a closer look at exoplanet atmospheres:
When launched, Twinkle will be set in a polar low-Earth orbit on a three to five-year mission, during which it will study 100 exoplanets in our galaxy.
The Twinkle satellite will be built in the UK and launched into a low-Earth, sun-synchronous orbit by 2019, using a platform designed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and a payload built by a consortium of UK institutes led by UCL.
The platform must physically accommodate a payload assembly with an aperture of 52cm and length of 85 cm. The instrument includes cryo-coolers and a dedicated radiator to maintain the telescope to its required operating temperature < 200K. The total mass of the payload is 100 kg with an average power requirement of 100 W, including all margins. The mission will operate in a 600 to 700km sun-synchronous dawn-dusk orbit with the boresight of the telescope pointed within a 40° cone centred around the anti-sun vector.
Question: Why specifically a sun-synchronous orbit? Wouldn't staying out of the Sun be better for very sensitive spectral measurements?
- main site http://www.twinkle-spacemission.co.uk/
- access: http://www.twinkle-spacemission.co.uk/access/#pricing
- publications: http://www.twinkle-spacemission.co.uk/publications/
- ArXiv: Remote-sensing Characterisation of Major Solar System Bodies with the Twinkle Space Telescope
- ArXiv: Small Bodies Science with Twinkle
- Experimental Astronomy: Exoplanet spectroscopy and photometry with the Twinkle space telescope
Artist's concept of Twinkle, Source
Another artist's conception, Source