The BRITE-Constellation satellites are based on a development carried out at the University of Toronto Institute of Aerospace Studies and its Space Flight Lab (UTIAS-SFL), in Toronto, Canada. UTIAS-SFL runs a program called Canadian Advanced Nanospace eXperiment (CANX). The BRITE satellites are developed under the CANX-3 program which are based on UTIAS-SFL’s Generic Nano-satellite Bus (GNB).
The key engineering challenge for the BRITE satellites is the development of an Attitude Determination and Control System (ADCS) which will allow the nanosatellites to be three- axis stabilized to within one minute of arc rms and with an attitude accuracy of at least 10 seconds of arc. This performance is required to allow the positioning of stars in the field of view onto the same detector pixels in order to achieve the needed photometric precision.
The scientific instrument in each spacecraft is basically a five-lens telescope with 3cm aperture and a CCD camera. Two versions of the instrument have been developed so far, one for a BLUE (390-460nm) and the other for a RED (550-700nm) passband. The optics have been designed specifically for each wavelength range to provide the required image character across the wide field of view (~24 deg).
The first two BRITE satellites, BRITE-AUSTRIA (TUGSAT-1) and UniBRITE, will be launched from India into a Low Earth (800km) Sun-Synchrounous Dawn-Dusk orbit. The launch campaign is currently planned for March/April 2012.The launches and orbits of the other BRITE-Constellation satellites, which are the two Polish and the two Canadian spacecrafts, remain to be defined.
For more details on the engineering aspects of the BRITE satellites please visit the UTIAS-SFL and the IKS-TUG websites. A polish BRITE wesite can be found here.