Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

BurstCube: A Gamma-ray Burst Detecting Swarm of CubeSats

Jeremy Perkins
Judy Racusin, John Krismanic, Julie McEnery


The study of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) has seen major advances in the past decade based on the results of several highly successful missions like Swift and Fermi. These prolific GRB detectors have enabled multi-wavelength follow-up of hundreds of GRBs and have allowed us to answer some of the outstanding questions in this field as well as prompted research in many new directions. It is critical to continue GRB detection, especially with gravitational wave detectors coming online in the next few years, e.g. advanced LIGO/Virgo, and the continued operation of multi-messenger observatories such as IceCube. Without the detection and study of counterparts to these future non-photon detections, the full characterization of a GRB would be difficult. The current GRB detection technology is at a mature level such that small, inexpensive detectors on CubeSats could perform as well or better than the current generation of GRB scintillator detectors. This paper will detail the design parameters and performance of small, GRB detecting CubeSats operating in a swarm that can detect, localize, and characterize GRBs via the high energy photon signatures.