The project "Cute autONomous daTa ReductiOn pipeLine" (CONTROL) is funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) under the ASAP14 scheme and as part of the Austrian contribution to the CUTE mission.

Project summary

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 and test CUTE's data reduction pipeline. The pipeline will carry out dark and bias subtraction, cosmic-ray correction, removal of the flat- field, spectral extraction, wavelength and flux calibration. Thanks to the previous development of the data simulator, we will be able to produce a flexible pipeline capable of dealing with a number of possible in- flight complications. The project is timed in such a way that its end will be a few months after launch in order to perform fine tuning of the pipeline during commissioning and to provide initial data reduction support to the science team.

Project participants

Luca Fossati (PI)
Sreejith Aickara Gopinathan (main project postdoc/engineer)
Manfred Steller
Johannes Hasiba
Gunther Laky


Under construction

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