A pioneering new cubesat space telescope to observe the most distant explosions in the Universe and to find planets around other stars

Project update: Expanded science focus, new team members, preliminary design progress, Australian space agency.

The last few months have been hectic but highly productive for the SkyHopper project, and there are several news that will be presented in greater details in the next newsletter and in a major website update. In the meantime, a brief preview of the key highlights:

The SkyHopper and the Australian Space Eye teams joined forces to develop a unified mission concept for Australia’s first space telescope. The combined SkyHopper CubeSat project has an expanded and stronger science case that includes new ambitious planetary science and extragalactic observations, in particular the first high-precision measurement of the unresolved infrared background radiation produced by stars and galaxies during the first billion years after the Big Bang. As a result our team membership has grown significantly at the national level, while at the same team we have established new international collaborations.

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Funding awarded for development of SkyHopper’s innovative camera

SkyHopper’s German CoInvestigators Sylvio Klose (TLS) and Jochen Greiner (MPE) have been awarded more than 1,200,000 AUD (780,000 EUR) to develop the technology at the base of a key component of SkyHopper’s camera that will allow to acquire images simultaneously in four colors.

A schematic of the Kester prism, with light-rays at different wavelengths indicated by different colors. This optical component will allow SkyHopper to simultaneously acquire images in four colors (z’, Y, J, H from bluest to reddest), covering the spectral range from 0.8 to 1.7 microns.

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Our First SkyHopper Interns

We would like to give a warm welcome to our winter Interns, Lauren Jessup and Jack McRobbie. Lauren and Jack are both University of Melbourne students and are working on Melbourne Uni’s first student cubesat in the student run Melbourne Space Program. Lauren studies Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Melbourne and has studied both physics and teaching in New Zealand, while Jack is an undergraduate physics student. We are excited to have both of them on board for the winter break.

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Cubesat Expert Visit and Student Projects

Greetings from Cubesat Central! We recently wrapped up an extremely productive visit from Dr James Mason, a cubesat expert from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder, Colorado. James was one of the leads in designing, building, and operating a fantastically successful solar-observing cubesat called MinXSS, and has contributed to a few others. As MinXSS was primarily a student-led project, we invited James to visit and share his expertise in not only cubesat development, but also the best way to bring students into the process. SkyHopper team member Dr Katie Mack received generous funding from the University of Melbourne in the form of the Dyason Fellowship to fly James across the ocean for a two-week visit, during which we kept him busy consulting on SkyHopper design and meeting with students who may be involved in the project.

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SkyHopper talks at international meetings

SkyHopper was recently presented at two international meetings: On April 7th, SkyHopper’s Principal Investigator Michele Trenti gave a talk at the “Science with CubeSats” Specialist Discussion Meeting hosted by the Royal Astronomical Society in London (UK). Shortly after that, on May 31st, Co-Investigator Jochen Greiner talked at the 6th Interplanetary CubeSat Workshop in Cambridge (UK). Both presentations were well received, and the events have been excellent opportunities for networking with other leading CubeSat experts.

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Australian Astronomical Observatory ∙ Australian National University ∙ Cambridge University ∙ Curtin University ∙ NASA Goddard ∙ Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics ∙ Space Telescope Science Institute ∙ Swinburne Institute of Technology ∙ Thüringer Landessternwarte Tautenburg ∙ University of Virginia