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High Energy Rapid Modular Ensemble of Satellites, Scientific Pathfinder

Project description

Monitoring high-energy radiation in space using nanosatellites

The EU-funded HERMES-SP project plans to design a constellation of nanosatellites orbiting close to Earth. Each nanosatellite will be equipped with miniaturised payload to detect gamma-ray bursts and the electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave events. Simple, miniaturised payloads drive down the cost of delivering a spacecraft to orbit by 1–2 orders of magnitude, while they move spacecraft from idea to implementation within a few years. An operation-efficient all-sky monitor with good localisation capability will play a pivotal role in multi-messenger astrophysics over the next decade.


HERMES (High Energy Rapid Modular Ensemble of Satellites) Scientific Pathfinder (HERMES-SP) is a mission concept based on a constellation of nano-satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), hosting new miniaturized detectors to probe the X-ray temporal emission of bright high-energy transients such as Gamma-Ray Bursts (GRB) and the electromagnetic counterparts of Gravitational Wave Events (GWE).
HERMES-SP main goal is to design and implement the first GRBs localisation experiment through a distributed space architecture realized by a 3 +3 CubeSat federation, each equipped with the novel detector to gain a wide deep space coverage and demonstrate capabilities in precisely localising the GRB event in space.
HERMES-SP exploits synergies with an ongoing project funded by the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI).
GRB localisation is gained by comparing time delays among the same event detection epochs occurred on - at least - 3 detectors spaced out on different satellites. Distribution in space and event detection are the fundamental ingredient to start building up the whole scientific experiment.
HERMES-SP is aiming at demonstrating detection and localisation of high-energy transients feasibility with disruptive technologies and limited effort: simple payload on nano-satellites and a disruptive level of cost-effectiveness: 1-2 order of magnitude cost lower than that standard space projects (ESA class M mission, NASA Explorer mission), 1 order of magnitude lower lifecycle compared with 10-15 years for standard Space Science projects.
The HERMES-SP represents also a step forward the HERMES Full Constellation (HERMES-FC), supposed to further increase the distributed detection points in space with several tents of detector-equipped CubeSats in LEO which timely and completely monitor the Universe listening for and chasing GWEs. It is, therefore preparatory for a proposal to European Entities (Commission, Space Agency), for the HERMES-FC implementation.

Call for proposal


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Net EU contribution
€ 565 375,00
00136 Roma

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Centro (IT) Lazio Roma
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 680 875,00

Participants (10)