DarkNESS Satellite

Satellite name DarkNESS (Dark matter as a sterile NEutrino Search Satellite)
Type CubeSat
Units or mass 6U
Status not launched, expected in 2025
Launcher not launched
Organization Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)
Institution Non-profit
Entity type Government (Civil / Military)
Nation US
Manufacturer AIVT by ?
Operator ?
Partners NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

CubeSat mission to hunt for dark matter in the Milky Way.


CubeSat mission to hunt for dark matter in the Milky Way. Equipped with four ultra-high signal-to-noise-ratio (SNR) charge-coupled devices (CCDs) that will be looking at the Galactic Center (GC) of the Milky Way.

After astronomers con rmed the presence of a 3.5 keV signal coming from the GC, physicists began exploring experiments to map the signal directly knowing that a 3.5 keV signal is consistent with a sterile neutrino (Ns) with mass of 7 keV that decays into a standard neutrino () and 3.5 keV photon. Neutrinos have long been thought to be a candidate for dark matter and this mission will survey the 3.5 keV signal to further understand its origins and see if it indeed comes from Ns within the GC.

Four ultra-high SNR CCDs developed by Fermilab will be out tted to obtain a 40 field of view (FOV) and a collection area of 36 cm2, giving a 0.050 keV resolution with an SNR of 13 for 15 minute exposures.

In order to avoid dark current noise, the CCDs are cooled 150 K using an onboard micro-cryocooler and are constantly facing deep space. The spacecraft uses five solar panels that unfold in a similar con figuration to JPL's Temporal Experiment for Storms and Tropical Systems - Demonstration (TEMPEST-D) mission.

In order to maintain a 150 K cold face of the spacecraft and maximize the amount of time viewing the GC, the optimal orbit is a sun synchronous orbit (SSO) with ascending/descending nodes along the terminator (6am/6pm local nodes).

Sources [1] [2] [3]
Photo sources [1] [2]
Subsystems sources [1]

Last modified: 2023-12-03

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