An orbiting photon-counting Observatory for the Earth night-sky background: AURORA on MEGSAT-1

Year: 2001

Authors: Monfardini A., Trampus P., Stalio R., Vidali M., Mahne N., Battiston R., Menichelli M., Mazzinghi P.

Autors Affiliation: Center for Advanced Research in Space Optics (C.A.R.S.O.), Area Science Park, Trieste (Italy);
Astronomy Department, University of Trieste (Italy);
I.N.F.N. sez. Perugia (Italy);
Istituto Nazionale di Ottica Applicata, Largo E. Fermi 6, 50125 Firenze,Italy

Abstract: A light photon-counting scientific payload, named AURORA, has been developed and launched on a commercial microsatellite in order to study the near-UV night-sky background emission (channel \”Notte\”) and the Aurora (\”Alba\”). AURORA is mapping, with the \”Notte\” channel, the night-side photon background in the 300-400 nm spectral range, together with a particular 2+ nitrogen line (? = 337nm). These measurements are required in the framework of the Extreme Universe Space Observatory (EUSO) experiment, approved by the European Space Agency (ESA) for the phase A and to be flown on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2009. The \”Alba\” channel studies the Aurora emissions in four different spectral bands centered on: 367nm (continuum evaluation), 391nm (1- N2 +), 535nm (continuum evaluation), 560nm (OI). The instrument has been integrated on the MEGSAT-1 satellite and launched, on the September, 26th 2000, from the Baikonur cosmodrome. The nearly circular Low Earth Orbit (LEO), with inclination of 64.56 degrees, fully includes the ISS ground track envelope. The satellite overall mass is about 60 kg, and the scientific payload lies at the bottom, allowing the two optical systems to be pointed in the sub-point direction. An overview of the techniques adopted, including detectors, front-end electronics, Central Processor Unit (CPU), is given in this paper, together with a brief report on the mission status and plans.

Conference title:

KeyWords: Cosmic ray detectors; Nitrogen; Optical systems; Photomultipliers; Photons; Satellite observatories; Solar system; Space telescopes, Aurora emission; Baikonur cosmodrome; Microsatellite, Astronomy
DOI: 10.1117/12.450061

Citations: 1
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