Celebrating a decade of discoveries with NASA’s Swift satellite

Posted by ap507 at Nov 18, 2014 11:40 AM |
Team at UK Swift Science Data Centre, based at the University, pays homage to unique space telescope
Celebrating a decade of discoveries with NASA’s Swift satellite

Image shows Professor Julian Osborne of the X-ray and Observational Astrophysics Group and his team in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester

Thursday 20 November 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of one of NASA’s most successful space telescopes.

The Swift satellite has been hurtling around the Earth at a height of 375 miles once every 96 minutes for the last 10-years and is showing no signs of slowing down – either scientifically or literally.

During its time it has studied black holes, quasars, neutron stars and most importantly, gamma-ray bursts, the most powerful explosive cosmic events – ones which briefly outshine everything else in the Universe.

Professor Julian Osborne, of the X-ray and Observational Astrophysics Group at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, leads the Swift team at Leicester, which analyses data from the satellite’s X-ray telescope, said Swift is a unique resource when it comes to observing the farthest reaches of the Universe.

Professor Osborne said that Swift was exceptional due to its agility and the speed with which its data is delivered.

The UK Swift Science Data Centre, which collects information beamed back by the satellite, is located on the University’s campus, in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The project is funded by the UK Space Agency and employs members of staff and research students who keep a 24-hour watch on any direct calls from orbit.

Click here to find out more about Swift.

 Watch a video of Professor Alan Wells from the Department of Physics and Astronomy discussing the Swift satellite below: