Integral makes its first measurements
24 October 2002After a successfull launch on 17 October 2002, experts say that ESA's Integral spacecraft is in very good health, orbiting Earth.
Scientists and engineers at the ESA Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany, have verified that the various spacecraft systems are working correctly. They are satisfied with the clear communications with the spacecraft, the stable pointing, good battery power and solar-array performance, and the stable temperatures. Integral has now made four turning manoeuvres flawlessly and well within the expected accuracy.
Some of the first data received clearly show the transits through the Earth's electron and proton radiation belts. Moreover, the optical monitor has provided a first-test image showing a region of sky in the Triangulus Australis constellation. This demonstrates that it is working as expected with good sharp images of the whole field of view. Once other instruments are switched on and checked, other data will be forwarded rapidly to the Integral Science Data Centre. There they will be processed and distributed to Integral scientists.
Scientists are also preparing Integral to receive the command that will position it in its final orbit at 9000 to 155 000 kilometres above Earth. Its mission lifetime is expected to be at least two years.