A replica of Heweliusz
Mission typeAstronomy
OperatorCentrum Astronomiczne im. Mikołaja Kopernika PAN
COSPAR ID2014-049B Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.40119Edit this on Wikidata
Mission duration9 years, 6 months and 12 days
(in progress)
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerSpace Research Centre
Launch mass7 kilograms (15 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date19 August 2014, 03:15 (2014-08-19UTC03:15Z) UTC
RocketChang Zheng 4B
Launch siteTaiyuan Launch Complex 9
ContractorChina Great Wall Industry Corporation
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth

Heweliusz (also called BRITE-PL) is the second[1] Polish scientific satellite launched in 2014 as part of the Bright-star Target Explorer (BRITE) programme. The spacecraft was launched aboard a Chang Zheng 4B rocket in August 2014. Heweliusz is an optical astronomy spacecraft built by the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences and operated by Centrum Astronomiczne im. Mikołaja Kopernika PAN; it is one of two Polish contributions to the BRITE constellation along with the Lem satellite. It is named after Johannes Hevelius.


Heweliusz is the third[2] Polish satellite (after PW-Sat and Lem) ever launched. Along with Lem, TUGSAT-1, UniBRITE-1 and BRITE-Toronto, it is one from a constellation of six nanosatellites of the BRIght-star Target Explorer project, operated by a consortium of universities from Canada, Austria and Poland.[3]

Heweliusz was developed and manufactured by the Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences between 2010 and 2012, based around the Generic Nanosatellite Bus, and had a mass at launch of 7 kilograms (15 lb).[4] The satellite is used, along with four other operating spacecraft,[a] to conduct photometric observations of stars with an apparent magnitude of greater than 4.0 as seen from Earth.[6] Heweliusz was one of two Polish BRITE satellites launched, along with the Lem spacecraft. Four more satellites—two Austrian and two Canadian—were launched at different dates.

Heweliusz observes the stars in the red color range whereas Lem does it in blue. Due to the multicolour option, geometrical and thermal effects in the analysis of the observed phenomena are separated. None of the much larger satellites, such as MOST and CoRoT, has this colour option; this is crucial in the diagnosis of the internal structure of stars.[7] Heweliusz photometrically measures low-level oscillations and temperature variations in stars brighter than visual magnitude (4.0), with unprecedented precision and temporal coverage not achievable through terrestrial based methods.[4]


The Heweliusz satellite was launched as a secondary payload on a Long March 4B rocket, whose primary payload was the Chinese Gaofen 2 earth-observation satellite. The launch was subcontracted to the China Great Wall Industry Corporation and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).[8] The launch took place at 03:15 UTC on 19 August 2014 from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, and the rocket deployed all of its payloads successfully.[9]

Although the other satellites in the BRITE constellation used the Canadian XPOD nanosatellite deployer, Heweliusz uses an indigenous Polish system. The DRAGON nanosatellite deployer was designed specifically for this mission by the Space Research Centre, in collaboration with the SRC spinoff company Astronika. Development, manufacturing, testing, and integration of the system took only two months.[10]

See also

Explanatory notes

  1. ^ The sixth satellite, BRITE-Montreal, is possibly lost.[5]


  1. ^ "Polish scientific satellite Hevelius will be launched on July 10". First Polish Political Satellite. PAP; naukawpolsce.pap.pl. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Live event – BRITE-PL 2 Heweliusz launch". kosmonauta.net. 18 August 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  3. ^ "Science". First Polish Political Satellite. Space Research Centre; Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center. 27 August 2014. Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  4. ^ a b "PSLV-C20/SARAL Mission" (PDF). Indian Space Research Organisation. 25 February 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  5. ^ Semeniuk, Ivan (3 July 2014). "Canadian astronomy satellite lost as another looks for rescue". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  6. ^ "Science Goals". BRITE–Constellation. University of Vienna. 17 January 2011. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Universität Wien startet ins All" [University of Vienna launches into space] (in German). University of Vienna. 20 February 2013. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  8. ^ "First Polish Scientific Satellite". First Polish Political Satellite. Space Research Centre; Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center. Archived from the original on 8 October 2014. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  9. ^ Clark, Stephen (20 August 2014). "Chinese, Polish satellites launched by Long March". Spaceflight Now. Archived from the original on 13 November 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  10. ^ Dobrowolski, Marcin; et al. (May 14–16, 2014). "DRAGON - 8U Nanosatellite Orbital Deployer" (PDF). Proceedings of the 42nd Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.