ASI - Agenzia Spaziale Italiana - Mission and Projects ASI - Agenzia Spaziale Italiana - Mission and Projects

INTEGRAL

Main Theme High Energy Astrophysics

Mission Responsibility ESA

Launch Date 17 October 2002

End of Mission December 2012 (nominal)

Current Phase E2

 

Description

INTEGRAL (INTErnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory) is a European mission in partnership with Russia and the United States for observing some of the highest energy radiation in the Universe from space. In the interval between 15 keV and 10 MeV INTEGRAL instruments study the remains of supernovae, neutron stars, black holes, active galactic nuclei and gamma ray bursts. Its four instruments point at the same region in the celestial sphere at the same time, thus allowing a clear identification of the source.

 

Scientific Objectives

Several of the highest energy processes that occur in space will be finally demonstrated with studies such as those on dense objects (neutron stars and black holes), nucleosynthesis in supernovae and gamma ray bursts. The combination of space resolution at sub-minute of arc of IBIS and the spectral  resolution at keV of the germanium detector of the SPI make INTEGRAL one of the most powerful diagnostic means compared to all the previous ones and even recent missions (SIGMA and GRO).

 

The main objective of SPI is to look at the gamma lines 26A1, 44Ti and 22Na in our galaxy that are the remains of nucleo-synthesis processes. By mapping aluminium we can trace the stellar formation of the galactic disc while titanium and sodium, created in explosive processes. should tell us if there are recent remains of supernova in the disc.

 

IBIS, characterised by a wide view field has revealed many new gamma sources, mainly through the map of the region of the centre of our galaxy, has begun to give relevant results in the field of extragalactic astronomy.

 

Italian Contribution

The Space Astrophysics and Cosmic Physics Institute of INAF, under ASI's coordination, is the PI of the principal instrument of the satellite, the IBIS telescope. It also includes a French contribution for the X-ray revelation plan (ISGRI). It also contributed to the Integral Scientific Data Centre (ISDC).

 

Italy has also made a large contribution to the realization of the SPI spectrometer under French responsibility. All the working groups of the different sections (Rome, Palermo, Bologna and Milan) are presently involved in the in-flight operations that concern the fine-tuning of the on board detectors and the calibration phase which is scheduled every 6 months. They also participate in control activities of the mission scientifically at the ESOC/ESA operational centre and at the ISDC.

 

In addition, the ASDC has the task of housing the software for reducing data from its scientific instruments and the public data of the mission, of ensuring their distribution and of supporting the scientific community in data analysis. The ASDC works in contact with the ISDC, the INTEGRAL Scientific Data centre, set up for receiving and reducing data on the ground.

 

International Agreements

There are no specific agreements, only the ones with ESA.