The Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment (CUTE): A dedicated cubesat mission to study exoplanetary mass loss and magnetic fields

Brian T. Fleming, Kevin France, Nicholas Nell, Richard Kohnert, Kelsey Pool, Arika Egan, Luca Fossati, Tommi Koskinen, Aline A. Vidotto, Keri Hoadley, Jean Michel Desert, Matthew Beasley, Pascal Petit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment (CUTE) is a near-UV (2550 - 3300 Å) 6U cubesat mission designed to monitor transiting hot Jupiters to quantify their atmospheric mass loss and magnetic fields. CUTE will probe both atomic (Mg and Fe) and molecular (OH) lines for evidence of enhanced transit absorption, and to search for evidence of early ingress due to bow shocks ahead of the planet’s orbital motion. As a dedicated mission, CUTE will observe & 100 spectroscopic transits of hot Jupiters over a nominal seven month mission. This represents the equivalent of > 700 orbits of the only other instrument capable of these measurements, the Hubble Space Telescope. CUTE efficiently utilizes the available cubesat volume by means of an innovative optical design to achieve a projected effective area of - 28 cm2, low instrumental background, and a spectral resolving power of R - 3000 over the primary science bandpass. These performance characteristics enable CUTE to discern transit depths between 0.1 – 1% in individual spectral absorption lines. We present the CUTE optical and mechanical design, a summary of the science motivation and expected results, and an overview of the projected fabrication, calibration and launch timeline.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Jan 8 2018

Keywords

  • Astronomy
  • Atmospheres
  • Optical design
  • Planets
  • Satellites
  • Ultraviolet spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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