The Star-Planet Activity Research CubeSat (SPARCS): A mission to understand the impact of stars in exoplanets

David R. Ardila, Evgenya Shkolnik, Paul Scowen, April Jewell, Shouleh Nikzad, Judd Bowman, Michael Fitzgerald, Daniel Jacobs, Constance Spittler, Travis Barman, Sarah Peackock, Matthew Beasley, Varoujan Gorgian, Joe Llama, Victoria Meadows, Mark Swain, Robert Zellem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Star-Planet Activity Research CubeSat (SPARCS) is a NASA-funded astrophysics mission, devoted to the study of the ultraviolet (UV) time-domain behavior in low-mass stars. Given their abundance and size, low-mass stars are important targets in the search for habitable-zone, exoplanets. However, not enough is known about the stars flare and quiescent emission, which powers photochemical reactions on the atmospheres of possible planets. Over its initial 1-year mission, SPARCS will stare at ≈10 stars in order to measure short- (minutes) and long- (months) term variability simultaneously in the near-UV (NUV - δc = 280 nm) and far-UV (FUV – lc = 162 nm). The SPARCS payload consists of a 9-cm reflector telescope paired with two high-sensitivity 2D-doped CCDs. The detectors are kept passively cooled at 238K, in order to reduce dark-current contribution. The filters have been selected to provide strong rejection of longer wavelengths, where most of the starlight is emitted. The payload will be integrated within a 6U CubeSat to be placed on a Sun-synchronous terminator orbit, allowing for long observing stares for all targets. Launch is expected to occur not earlier than October 2021.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Aug 28 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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