A model of the satellite
|Mission type||Gamma-ray astronomy|
|Mission duration||until 2010 (original); operational as of 2018 |
|Manufacturer||OHB (in the Milano site), ex Compagnia Generale per lo Spazio|
|Launch mass||352 kilograms (776 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||23 April 2007, 10:00:00UTC|
|Launch site||Satish Dhawan SLP|
|Semi-major axis||6,892.13 kilometres (4,282.57 mi)|
|Perigee altitude||509 kilometres (316 mi)|
|Apogee altitude||533 kilometres (331 mi)|
|Epoch||4 December 2013, 04:13:37 UTC|
AGILE's mission is to observe gamma-ray sources in the universe.
AGILE (Astro rivelatore Gamma a Immagini Leggero) is an Italian high-energy astrophysics mission dedicated to the observation of the gamma-ray Universe. Its very innovative instrumentation is unprecedentedly light (100 kg) and the most compact ever operational for high-energy astrophysics (approximately a cube of about 60 cm size) with excellent detection and imaging capability. Satellite data are collected by the ASI ground station in Malindi (Kenya), then quickly transferred to the Satellite Operations Centre in Fucino, transferred, preprocessed, and stored and analyzed at the ASI Science Data Center (ASDC) in Frascati. In parallel the pre-processed data are transferred at INAF/OAS Bologna for a fast science alert generation, thus assuring a very rapid response to gamma-ray detections, obtained by special quick look analysis programs and coordinated ground-based and space observations.
Key scientific objectives of the AGILE Mission include the study of:
AGILE's instrumentation includes a Gamma Ray Imaging Detector (GRID) sensitive in the 30 MeV – 50 GeV energy range, a SuperAGILE (SA) hard X-ray monitor sensitive in the 18–60 keV energy range, a Mini-Calorimeter (MCAL) non-imaging gamma-ray scintillation detector sensitive in the 350 keV – 100 MeV energy range, and an Anti-coincidence System (AC), based on a plastic scintillator, to assist with suppressing unwanted background events.
The SuperAGILE SA is an instrument based on a set of four silicon strip detectors, each equipped with one-dimensional coded mask. The SA is designed to detect X-Ray signals from known sources and burst-like signals. It provides long-term monitoring of flux and spectral features. MCAL can also effectively detect high-energy radiation bursts in its energy band.
AGILE was successfully launched on 23 April 2007, from the Indian base of Sriharikota and was inserted in an equatorial orbit with low particle background. On 23 April 2007, ASI made contact with AGILE; its signals were acquired by the ground station at the Broglio Space Centre near Malindi, Kenya and it was placed in a Sun-pointing mode.
During its operations AGILE surveyed the gamma-ray sky and detected many galactic and extragalactic sources: AGILE discovered gamma-ray emission from the microquasar Cygnus X-3, detected many bright blazars, discovered several new gamma-ray pulsars, surveyed the Galactic plane with simultaneous hard X-ray/gamma-ray capability, discovered emission up to 100 MeV from Terrestrial Gamma-Ray Flashes.
Some transient events detected by AGILE are associated with positions not consistent with a known source (Gamma Ray Burst) and have cosmological origins. Others are due to solar flares, while some are due to Earth atmosphere events (Terrestrial Gamma Flash).
The main results of the AGILE satellite are:
A key aspect of the AGILE data flow is the fastest gamma-ray alert monitoring system of the world. The overall gamma-ray alert monitoring system of AGILE is compound by two independent pipelines that process the data with different data quality results. The INAF/OAS Bologna pipeline processes the data in the fastest possible way, but it generates alert within 0.5–1 hour from the time of the last GRID event acquired in orbit. The ASDC pipeline is more accurate because all events are considered during the analysis but the alerts are generated 3–3.5 hours after.
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