The project "A CUTE Data sImulatoR aNd reDuction pipeLine"
(ACUTEDIRNDL) is funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency
(FFG) under the ASAP13 scheme and as part of the Austrian contribution
to the CUTE mission.
The long-term evolution of a planetary atmosphere is predominantly
controlled by escape, a process leading atmospheric gas to leave the planet's
gravitational well and disperse into space. The ultraviolet (UV) transit
observations of extra-solar planets conducted so far led to the detection
of a large variety of phenomena, but, at present, the theories explaining
them exceed the number of relevant transit observations. There is a whole
wealth of phenomena, also variable in time, that requires a large
observational effort to understand, effort that cannot be undertaken by
the Hubble Space Telescope, which is our almost only UV “eye” and has now
a very limited life-time.
Owing to the large size of the transiting atmospheres and to the short
orbital periods of close-in planets, the physics of atmospheric mass-loss
can be studied with a dedicated small instrument operating at near-UV
wavelengths (250 - 320 nm). In 2017, NASA has approved funding to build,
launch, and operate the Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment (CUTE),
which is a 6U CubeSat specifically designed to provide exactly the kind
of spectroscopic observations that are urgently needed to further
understand atmospheric escape.
We develop CUTE's data simulator, generate an exposure time and signal-to-noise
calculator, and perform tests to foresee the effects of possible deviations
from the nominal instrument alignment. We have simulated CUTE's optical
system and performed ray tracing from the light source onto the CCD detector
using point-like light sources with different spectral distributions and
fluxes to simulate data obtained by observing different stellar types and
magnitudes. The CUTE data simulator is used to construct synthetic CUTE
transit datasets that are used to train the science team in the data
Luca Fossati (PI)
Sreejith Aickara Gopinathan (main project postdoc/engineer)
Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences. Schmiedlstrasse 6, 8042 Graz, Austria.
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