BRITE-PL-2 In Orbit

Polish Satellite

Polish Satellite

A Polish satellite was on board the Chinese Long March 4B rocket when it was launched at 03:15 on 19 August. BRITE-PL-2, also known as Heweliusz, was launched on the Long March 4B rocket from the Taiyuan Chinese military training Launch Space Centre. Dr. Marcin Stolarski from the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences informed the public that 14 minutes after the launch, the rocket reached the appropriate distance from the Earth and the Polish satellite broke away from the Chinese rocket. The scientist also noted that the successful launch of the rocket and disconnection of the satellite does not mean the entire operation has been a success. “We will be able to confirm that the operation has been a success when we link up with the satellite,” said Stolarski. Heweliusz’s sister satellite Lem has been circling the Earth since November. If the project is successful Heweliusz will join Lem and three other satellites which were designed within the Bright Target Explorer (BRITE) project and developed as part of a Austrian-Canadian-Polish consortium. All of the satellites have a similar structure, weigh less than 7 kg and are cube-shaped with each side around 20 cm long. The satellites are in orbit at a height of 800 km and will make photometric observations of 286 of the brightest stars in the sky in order to examine them for variability. The two Polish satellites Lem and Heweliusz were built by specialists from the Space Research Centre and the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Centre in Warsaw. The devices were constructed in collaboration with the University of Vienna, Graz University of Technology, the University of Toronto and the University of Montreal. The Ministry of Science and Higher Education allocated PLN 14.2 million in funds for their construction.

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