SPRITE Satellite

Spacecraft SPRITE (Supernova Remnants and Proxies for Re-Ionization Testbed Experiment)
Spacecraft type CubeSat
Units or mass 12U
Status not launched, expected in 2024
Launcher not launched, (ELaNa 53)
Organisation University of Colorado Boulder
Institution University
Entity Academic / Education
Country US
Costs $4 million

Determine how gas and dust are processed in galaxies by star-formation and supernovae.


Scientific investigation mission designed to observe ionizing radiation escape from low redshift star-forming galaxies, and the internal processes that shape galaxy evolution. SPRITE will carry out two scientific surveys over a one-year mission. The first is a mapping survey of star-forming regions and supernova remnants in the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds to assess the impact of massive stars on galaxy evolution. The second survey will observe the ionizing radiation spectrum of 100 galaxies in the 0.16-0.5 redshift range as proxies for galaxies at the Epoch of Reionization.

Determine how gas and dust are processed in galaxies by star-formation and supernovae, and how energetic ionizing radiation is transported from hot stars into the intergalactic medium.

SPRITE is the fourth scientific CubeSat funded by NASA for Astrophysics and first to operate in the windowless vacuum ultraviolet from 100 – 175 nm.

SPRITE will undertake a one year spectroscopic survey to measure the fraction of ionizing radiation escaping from low-redshift (0.16 < z < 0.5) galaxies and AGN, and to map emission from the interface regions between supernova remnants and star-forming regions in the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds.

The data from SPRITE will consist of deep far-UV spectra of 100+ galaxies, data cube maps of 50+ supernova remnants and star-forming regions in the Magellanic Clouds, and data cube maps of roughly 2 square degrees of the Cygnus and Vela supernova remnants in the Milky Way. All data will be archived for the community.

The Supernova remnants Proxies for Reionization and Integrated Testbed Experiment (SPRITE) CubeSat is a 12U CubeSat designed to carry out two science objectives. SPRITE will spend roughly half of the projected two-year baseline mission mapping shock emission in supernova remnants in the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds, and the other half determining the escape fraction of hydrogen ionizing radiation from 100 low-redshift starforming galaxies. In parallel with the science operations, SPRITE will execute a calibration program that will track the stability of the mirror coatings and detector over the mission lifetime. SPRITE will operate similar to our prior cubesats (CSSWE, MinXSS-1, MinXSS-2, QB-50 Challenger, CSIM, CUTE and CIRBE) which have gathered over 100 MB of data from amateur operators and were all coordinated by the IARU. As has been the case in the past, we will be actively soliciting the telemetry from amateurs. The information provided by amateurs has been crucial for past missions, enabling us to detect instrument orbits and the Doppler-shifted communication frequencies and troubleshoot anomalies. It is common for all of our missions to have extensive student involvement during the design, building, testing, and operation of the instrument. We take the training of next generation scientists and engineers very seriously. Our students will continue to be trained in the art of satellite communications, space weather, spacecraft design and operations. All students working on our cubesat projects are strongly encouraged to pursue their radio amateur license if they are not already licensed. Due to SPRITE’s nature as an education and research mission, much of the research work is done by undergraduate and graduate students. This work is invaluable to students as they learn and become well versed in satellite system design, communication testing and scientific analysis. In working on the project, these students become knowledgeable and appreciative of the amateur radio art and get exposed to the radio amateur community. We encourage all students working on the project to pursue the amateur radio license. 

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Last modified: 2024-05-29

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Created by Erik Kulu

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