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UCL Astrophysics Group

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PhD Projects: Astronomical Instrumentation

* Design of a UV spectroscopy payload for Cubesat Astronomy

UV astronomy has always relied on being able to perform astrophysical investigations above the atmosphere. As a field, UV spectroscopy has not been able to thrive similarly to optical astronomy because of this, and is constantly competing with a range of other science fields in funding experiments on space satellites  to study this wavelength range.
Unlike other fields (IR and mm-wave) though, UV astronomy deals with energetic photons and is less affected by issues of payload thermal emission. Furthermore, the specific field of UV spectroscopy of stars can relax many other stringent requirements (imaging resolution and field of view) allowing small satellites with limited power provision to perform investigations which are of interest and relevant to current  investigation of active stars. 
Exoplanet studies are at present focusing on the atmospheric properties of the planets discovered, but the vast majority of which are far close to their host star than the planets we are used to on the Solar System. Due to their proximity to their star, stellar activity and the star-planet interaction (including that of the magnetic fields) is key to understanding the nature and evolution of such exoplanets.

A small satellite (including cubesats) can provide a useful and economic platform for a small payload that delivers UV spectroscopy. As such, an investigation has begun in the design and build of a multi-unit cubesat to be launched in 3 years. 

A student on this project would participate in the late phases of the design, build and test campaign of this cubesat and (pending launch opportunities), the analysis of first light data.

Experience in optics, spectroscopy and coding is beneficial.

Contact: Prof Giorgio Savini (g.savini AT ucl.ac.uk)