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Explorer: IUE


The IUE (International Ultra-Violett Explorer, formerly SAS-D) satellite was a ultraviolet astronomical observatory for use as an international facility. The IUE contained a 45-cm telescope solely for spectroscopy in the wavelength range o 1150 to 3250 A. The satellite and optical instrumentation were provided by the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). The television cameras, used as detectors, were provided by the United Kingdom Science Engineering Research Council (SERC, formerly UKSRC). The European Space Agency (ESA, formerly ESRO) supplied solar paddles for the satellite and a European Control Center. After launch, two-thirds of the observing time was directed from a control center at GSFC; one-third of the time the satellite was operated from the European Control Center near Madrid. The IUE observatory was in a quasi-synchronous orbit.

The 45 cm Ritchey-Chretien f/15 telescope fed a spectrograph package. The spectrograph package, using secondary electron conduction (SEC) Vidicon cameras as detectors, covered the spectral range from 1150 to 3250 A, operating in either a high- or low-resolution mode with resolutions of approximately 0.1 and 6 A, respectively. The SEC Vidicons could integrate the signal for up to many hours. At high resolution, spectra of stellar sources were obtained as faint as 12th magnitude, while at lower resolution, observations had been made of sources fainter than 17th magnitude. The latter observations required 14 hours of integration time.

IUE was shut down at 18:42 UT, 30 September 1996.

Nation: USA / Europe
Type / Application: Astronomy (UV)
Operator: NASA / ESA
Contractors: NASA GSFC
Equipment: 45 cm Ritchey-Chretien telescope, spectrograph package
Propulsion: Star-24
Power: 2 deployable solar arrays, batteries
Mass: 672 kg
Orbit: 30285 km × 41296 km, 34.3
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
IUE (Explorer 57) (ex SAS D) 1978-012A 26.01.1978 CC LC-17A Delta-2914


  • NSSDC Master Catalog: IUE