Ten years ago the INTErnational Gamma Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL for short) began its orbital vigil. Having now travelled some 430 million kilometres, it is still peering into the most obscure regions of our Galaxy and beyond, providing scientists with abundant data about the most violent phenomena in our universe. Its mission is now extended until the end of 2016 though it still has enough fuel to keep it working until 2023.
INTEGRAL studies the sky through hard X-rays, which allow astronomers to peep through clouds of dust and gas that normally hide many objects from observers by absorbing less energetic radiation. INTEGRAL's objectives are the most extreme bodies and processes in the Universe; supernovae explosions and their remnants, compact objects like white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes, which combine very large mass with a relatively small size, the interaction of interstellar matter with cosmic rays and so much more. Since its launch, INTEGRAL has orbited the Earth 1222 times and is currently gazing into the very centre of our own Galaxy.A joint project between the European Space Agency (ESA), the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Federal Space Agency of Russia (Roscosmos) and several other countries, INTEGRAL was carried into space in 2002 by the Russian Proton launcher with DM booster. Russian experts have also contributed much to the orbit and insertion calculations, performed with astonishing accuracy, thus saving enough propellant for the observatory to remain at work until 2023 if needed, way beyond the initially planned 2007.
Source: Voice of Russia.