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INTEGRAL (International Gamma Ray Astrophysics Laboratory) was selected by the ESA Science Programme Committee on 3 June 1993 as the next ESA medium-size scientific mission (M2) of the Horizon 2000 programme to be launched in 2002. The mission is conceived as an observatory led by ESA with contributions from Russia (Proton launcher) and NASA (Deep Space Network ground station). NASA's participation was conducted under the Explorers program.

The ESA scientific mission INTEGRAL is dedicated to the fine spectroscopy (E/deltaE = 500) and fine imaging (angular resolution: 12 arcmin FWHM) of celestial gamma-ray sources in the energy range 15 keV to 10 MeV with concurrent source monitoring in the X-ray (3-35 keV. and optical (V-band, 550 nm) energy ranges.

The mission utilises the service module (bus) under development for the ESA XMM project. INTEGRAL was launched by a Russian Proton into a highly eccentric 72-hour orbit. The nominal lifetime of the observatory was be 2 years with possible extension to up to 5 years. Most of the observing time will be made available to the worldwide scientific community.

INTEGRAL carries two main Gamma-ray instruments:

  • SPI Spectrometer: spectral analysis of Gamma-ray point sources and diffuse line emission sources in 20 keV.- 8 MeV energy range. CESR (Toulouse) and MPI (Garching), plus others. E/deltaE=500
  • Imager IBIS: continuum and broad-line emission imaging of all classes of object in the energy range 15 keV.- 10 MeV. IAS/Rome, CE-Saclay and ITESRE (Bologna), plus others. Angular resolution 12'

Two other instruments complement the Gamma-ray detectors:

  • the OMC (optical monitoring camera) and
  • the JEM-X X-ray monitor

INTEGRAL science operations are extended until 31 December 2024, enabling support of the fourth international campaign of joint observations of gravitational waves by the network of instruments LIGO, Virgo, and KAGRA, currently planned to start in May 2023 and lasting for 18 months. This will be followed by two years of post-operations and monitoring of the spacecraft until re-entry in February 2029.

Nation: Europe, Russia, USA
Type / Application: Astronomy, Gamma
Operator: ESA
Contractors: Alenia Spazio
Equipment: SPI, IBIS, OMC, JEM-X
Configuration: XMM Servicemodule with experiment module
Power: 2 deployable solar arrays, batteries
Lifetime: 2 years (minimum), 5 years (planned); still active
Mass: 4100 kg
Orbit: 10.000 km × 153.000 km, 51.6 (at beginning); 31.000 km × 153.000 km, 86.5 (after 5 years);
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
INTEGRAL 2002-048A 17.10.2002 Ba LC-200/39 Proton-K Blok-DM-2


Further Explorer Missions of Opportunity (MoO) and International Missions (Int):

Missions of Opportunity: International Missions: Explorer Program

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