NASA SPRITE mission upgraded
First ever 12U Cubesat
ln 2018, NASA selected the Supernova Remnants and Proxies for Re-Ionization Testbed Experiment, or simply SPRITE, developed by University of Colorado-Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU-LASP) for launch in ~2022 as part of its growing suite of "cubesat" observatories. This nimble mission will support NASA astrophysics goals in two key ways: 1) Advance the development and flight-testing of new ultraviolet detector technologies for future UV-Optical observatories and 2) Spectroscopically survey both local supernova remnants and low-redshift star-forming galaxies in the observed wavelength range 1000-1750Å. SPRITE will serve as a flight testbed for these technologies, employing a robust calibration program as part of the principal science mission to advance the technology readiness level to 7+ and provide heritage for future Explorer-class and larger missions.
Recently, following negotiations with NASA, the PI of the program, Dr. Brian Fleming of CU-LASP, announced that this cubesat would be upgraded from its initial 6U (unit) configuration to an entirely new class of cubesat--the 12U, with a physical size of 226.3 x 226.3 x 344 mm. This larger payload allows for a 92% larger collecting area, which will allow for greater sensitivity and risk reduction!
The observatory is scheduled for launch in 2022-23 and will constitute MSU-Mankato's first foray into the growing field of UV science with cubesats. MSU's involvement is led by Assistant Professor in Astronomy, Dr. Michael Rutkowski, a member of the SPRITE science team. In advance of the launch at least one physics undergraduate will be involved with the selection of targets for study with this unique, first of its kind observatory for astrophysics. Stay tuned!