MOST Basics - The Microsatellite Concept

MOST (Microvariability and Oscillations of Stars) is a microsatellite, currently orbiting the Earth at an altitude of approximately 820 km. The suitcase-sized housing measures 65 x 65 x 30 cm and weighs about 60 kg. The instrument derives its power from solar panels. Its advanced attitude control system keeps it pointing within 1 arcsecond of the desired target.

MOST Scientific Goals

The MOST project is dedicated to the detection and characterization of:

1. Acoustic oscillations in Sun-like stars, including very old stars (metal-poor subdwarfs) and very magnetic stars (roAp stars) - Can we understand the Sun in the context of other stars?

2. The structure and ages of the aformentioned metal-poor subdwarfs (through seismic probing) - By putting a birthdate on the oldest stars near the Sun, can we set a limit on the age of the Universe?

3. The structure and ages of the aforementioned magnetic roAp stars (through seismic probing) - How do strong magnetic fields affect the physics of other stars and our own Sun?

4. Reflected light from giant exoplanets closely orbiting Sun-like stars, to reveal their sizes and atmospheric compositions - What are mysterious planets around other stars really like?

5. Turbulent variations in massive evolved (Wolf-Rayet) stars to understand how they add gas to the interstellar medium - "We are made of starstuff," but how did the atoms that make up our planet and our very bodies escape stars in the first place?

Communications and Telemetry

The microsatellite communicates with its 3 groundstations, located in Vancouver, Canada (University of British Columbia), Toronto, Canada (University of Toronto) and Vienna, Austria (University of Vienna). Ground teams at these stations can send commands and receive data from MOST. Each groundstation is in contact with MOST for about 50 minutes per day, with each individual groundstation pass lasting about 10 minutes.

Data is downloaded at 38,400 bps and uploaded at 9,600 bps.

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