Danish Space Minister visits INTEGRAL
27 September 2001The Dutch morning mist enveloped the Danish flag on 25 September when the country's Minister for Information Technology and Research, Mrs Birte Weiss, arrived at ESA's European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC). The Minister was accompanied by a party of Danish Parliamentarians led by Mrs Lise Haekkerup, Vice Chairperson of the Danish Parliamentary Research Committee. The visit coincided with the formal delivery of the Danish JEM-X instrument to fly on ESA's INTEGRAL mission.
The day-long visit to ESTEC, situated in the coastal town of Noordwijk in the Netherlands, not only allowed Denmark's Minister to see ESA's gamma-ray observatory being assembled and tested but also to be briefed on a wide range of ESA activities, all the more important in light of the forthcoming ESA Ministerial conference in November.
Particular interest was shown in computer software, a vital aspect of space activities and also a field in which Denmark is particularly active. In addition to the JEM-X X-ray telescopes on INTEGRAL, the Danish Space Research Institute has contributed to the software that the INTEGRAL Science Data Centre (ISDC) in Geneva will be using, including IBAS, an alert system that will warn the scientific community immediately a gamma-ray burst is detected.
"The Minister was pleased to see the INTEGRAL spacecraft and obviously happy that we have now delivered a major part of the satellite," said Dr Niels Lund, the JEM-X principal investigator. "I am sure that the launch in one year's time will have a special significance for our country."
After successful functional tests, the first of the JEM-X instrument detectors will now be incorporated into the spacecraft. The second flight model is due to be delivered to ESTEC at the beginning of December. "When we have finished the hardware, the data analysis software will be our highest priority for next year up to the launch," said Niels Lund.
"Our visit to ESTEC today has been extremely useful," commented Mrs Weiss. "As a Minister, and as a former journalist, I think we cannot talk enough about the importance of space. We spend a lot of effort trying to convince young people in Denmark that space and science are exciting. Yes, all the things we have seen and heard here today have been very exciting."