February 21, 2017


The Integral satellite (INTErnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory), developed by ESA in partnership with the United States and Russia, was launched in 2002 on a mission to observe cosmic gamma rays and study the properties of celestial objects like black holes and supernovae.

17 October 2002, the Integral satellite departed Earth on its mission to analyse gamma rays, electromagnetic waves 100,000 times more energetic than visible light that are emitted notably by black holes and supernovae (a ‘supernova’ is an exploding star that generates an extraordinarily bright and sudden emission of light). Using the data Integral has collected, astrophysicists hope not only to gain new insights into the cosmic phenomena that generate gamma rays, but also to map emission sources of this radiation in the Universe. For this purpose, Integral has four instruments, one of which is the SPI spectrometer developed by CNES as prime contractor.

The Integral mission led by ESA is an international effort associating several European nations (Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom), the United States and Russia. Initially scheduled to last 10 years, the mission has been extended to 2018.