NASA GSFC and CRESST/University of Maryland, College Park
CubeSats and Multi-Messenger Time Domain Astronomy
A new era of multi-messenger time domain astronomy broke ground after the first simultaneous detection of a short gamma-ray burst (SGRB) with a gravitational-wave (GW) signal. Coincident detections enable hundreds of electromagnetic observations that probe many areas of astrophysics such as jet physics, neutron star equation of state, speed of gravity, and heavy element production. In order to increase the number of SGRB-GW simultaneous detections, the gamma-ray community needs broad-band sky coverage and continued sensitivity. BurstCube, a CubeSat for Gravitational Wave Counterparts, aims to expand sky coverage of the current suite of GRB monitors in order to detect and localize gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). BurstCube will be comprised of 4 Cesium Iodide scintillators coupled to arrays of Silicon photo-multipliers on a 6U CubeSat bus (a single U corresponds to cubic unit approx. 10 cm on each side) and will be sensitive to gamma-rays between 50 keV and 1 MeV, the ideal energy range for GRB prompt emission. BurstCube will assist current observatories, such as Swift and Fermi, in the detection of GRBs as well as provide astronomical context to gravitational wave events detected by Advanced LIGO, Advanced Virgo, and KAGRA. BurstCube is currently in its development and testing phase to prepare for launch readiness in the fall of 2021. I present the BurstCube mission concept, preliminary performance, and current status.