17 October 2002 - MSSL provides the eyes for the world's most advanced gamma-ray telescope.

Scientists and staff at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory are eagerly awaiting the launch of the latest European Space Agency satellite, INTEGRAL (INTErnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory). It is a cooperative mission with Russia and is scheduled for launch on 17 October 2002 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on a Russian Proton rocket, the Russian contribution to the programme. It is the world's most advanced gamma-ray telescope.

Its mission is to observe the objects producing the most energetic radiation in the Universe. The spacecraft is due for launch in October 2002 and will help to solve some of the biggest mysteries in astronomy.


Image courtesy ESA

The Earth's atmosphere protects us from the harmful effects of gamma-rays from space, which is why a satellite is needed to detect the violent events producing the gamma-rays.

MSSL's role in Integral is to provide the CCD imaging detector and its associated electronics for the Optical Monitor Camera (OMC). The other countries involved with the instrument are: Spain (LAEFF/INTA Madrid: PI, mechanical structure, power supply electronics); Belgium (CSL Liège: Optical system); and Ireland (DIAS/UCD Dublin: Ground Support Equipment).

OMC is a telescope-camera providing simultaneous observations at optical wavelengths to the data from the gamma-ray-sensitive instruments. This multi-wavelength coverage is needed to unravel the complex processes occurring in such energetic objects as neutron stars and black holes. The MSSL-provided electronics allow the high-resolution Marconi CCD (1024x1024 pixels) to be read out with low noise and in a flexible way in order to maximise the scientific value of the data returned to Earth.

Contacts at MSSL:

Dr Mark Cropper
Email: msc@mssl.ucl.ac.uk
Tel: 01483 204155

Dr Dave Walton
Email: dmw@mssl.ucl.ac.uk
Tel: 01483 204190

More information about Integral and its role are on the following Internet Web pages:



Last modified 17 October 2002

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