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INTEGRAL mission graphic

International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory

Phase: Operating

Launch Date: October 17, 2002

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Program(s):Physics of the Cosmos

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ESA's INTEGRAL is providing new insight into the most violent and exotic objects of the Universe, such as black holes, neutron stars, active galactic nuclei and supernovae. INTEGRAL is also helping us to understand processes such as the formation of new chemical elements and mysterious gamma-ray bursts, the most energetic phenomena in the Universe. This will be possible thanks to INTEGRAL's combination of fine spectroscopy and imaging of gamma-ray emissions in the energy range of 15 keV to 10 MeV. INTEGRAL also has an optical camera and X-ray detector, energy range 3 to 35 keV, for simultaneous observations across the EM spectrum.

Dead stars known as white dwarfs can reignite and explode as supernovae.

Credit: ESA/ATG medialab

Gamma-rays are even more powerful than the X-rays used in medical examinations. Fortunately, the Earth's atmosphere acts as a shield to protect us from this dangerous cosmic radiation. However, this means that gamma-rays from space can only be detected by satellites. It can detect radiation from the most violent events far away and from processes that made the universe habitable.

INTEGRAL is a truly international mission with the participation of all member states of ESA plus the United States, Russia, Czech Republic, and Poland. ESA appointed Alenia Spazio, Italy, as industrial prime contractor, responsible for the design, integration and testing of the satellite. On board, four instruments from teams led by scientists in Italy, France, Germany, Denmark, and Spain are today gathering and analyzing the gamma-rays from space. A Russian Proton rocket successfully placed the spacecraft into orbit. ESA and NASA ground stations are keeping in touch with INTEGRAL.

Science Highlights:

Since 2002, INTEGRAL has aided our understanding of some of the most fundamental processes at work in the Universe. INTEGRAL has:
  • Done spectral measurements of gamma-ray sources
  • Detected gamma-ray bursts, including one of the closest and faintest on record (GRB 031203)
  • Mapped the galactic plane in gamma-rays
  • Resolved diffuse gamma-ray emission from the galactic center
  • Provided supporting evidence for torii in AGN
  • Found a new class of highly absorbed objects
  • Detected more than 100 of the brightest supermassive black holes in other galaxies.

Last Updated: May 28, 2015

Related Links
  • INTEGRAL on iSat -
  • ESA INTEGRAL Website -