INTEGRAL reloaded: Spacecraft, instruments and ground system

Erik Kuulkers*, Carlo Ferrigno, Peter Kretschmar, Julia Alfonso-Garzón, Marius Baab, Angela Bazzano, Guillaume Bélanger, Ian Benson, Anthony J. Bird, Enrico Bozzo, Søren Brandt, Elliott Coe, Isabel Caballero, Floriane Cangemi, Jérôme Chenevez, Bradley Cenko, Nebil Cinar, Alexis Coleiro, Stefano De Padova, Roland DiehlClaudia Dietze, Albert Domingo, Mark Drapes, Eleonora D’uva, Matthias Ehle, Jacobo Ebrero, Mithrajith Edirimanne, Natan A. Eismont, Timothy Finn, Mariateresa Fiocchi, Elena Garcia Tomas, Gianluca Gaudenzi, Thomas Godard, Andrea Goldwurm, Diego Götz, Christian Gouiffès, Sergei A. Grebenev, Jochen Greiner, Aleksandra Gros, Lorraine Hanlon, Wim Hermsen, Cristina Hernández, Margarita Hernanz, Jutta Huebner, Elisabeth Jourdain, Giovanni La Rosa, Claudio Labanti, Philippe Laurent, Alexander Lehanka, Niels Lund, James Madison, Julien Malzac, Jim Martin, J. Miguel Mas-Hesse, Brian McBreen, Alastair McDonald, Julie McEnery, Sandro Meregehtti, Lorenzo Natalucci, Jan-Uwe Ness, Carol Anne Oxborrow, John Palmer, Sibylle Peschke, Francesco Petrucciani, Norbert Pfeil, Michael Reichenbaecher, James Rodi, Jérôme Rodriguez, Jean-Pierre Roques, Emilio Salazar Doñate, Dave Salt, Celia Sánchez-Fernández, Aymeric Sauvageon, Volodymyr Savchenko, Sergey Yu. Sazonov, Stefano Scaglioni, Norbert Schartel, Thomas Siegert, Richard Southworth, Rashid A. Sunyaev, Liviu Toma, Pietro Ubertini, Ed P.J. van den Heuvel, Andreas von Kienlin, Nikolai von Krusenstiern, Christoph Winkler, Hajdas Wojciech, Ugo Zannoni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The European Space Agency’s INTErnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (ESA/INTEGRAL) was launched aboard a Proton-DM2 rocket on 17 October 2002 at 06:41 CEST, from Baikonur in Kazakhstan. Since then, INTEGRAL has been providing long, uninterrupted observations (up to about 47hr, or 170ksec, per satellite orbit of 2.7 days) with a large field-of-view (FOV, fully coded: 100 deg2), millisecond time resolution, keV energy resolution, polarization measurements, as well as additional wavelength coverage at optical wavelengths. This is realized by two main instruments in the 15keV to 10MeV energy range, the spectrometer SPI (spectral resolution 3keV at 1.8MeV) and the imager IBIS (angular resolution: 12arcmin FWHM), complemented by X ray (JEM-X; 3–35keV) and optical (OMC; Johnson V-band) monitor instruments. All instruments are co-aligned to simultaneously observe the target region. A particle radiation monitor (IREM) measures charged particle fluxes near the spacecraft. The Anti-coincidence subsystems of the main instruments, built to reduce the background, are also very efficient all-sky γ-ray detectors, which provide virtually omni-directional monitoring above ∼75keV. Besides the long, scheduled observations, INTEGRAL can rapidly (within a couple of hours) re-point and conduct Target of Opportunity (ToO) observations on a large variety of sources. INTEGRAL observations and their scientific results have been building an impressive legacy: The discovery of currently more than 600 new high-energy sources; the first-ever direct detection of 56Ni and 56Co radio-active decay lines from a Type Ia supernova; spectroscopy of isotopes from galactic nucleo-synthesis sources; new insights on enigmatic positron annihilation in the Galactic bulge and disk; and pioneering gamma-ray polarization studies. INTEGRAL is also a successful actor in the new multi-messenger astronomy introduced by non-electromagnetic signals from gravitational waves and from neutrinos: INTEGRAL found the first prompt electromagnetic radiation in coincidence with a binary neutron star merger. Up to now more than 1750 scientific papers based on INTEGRAL data have been published in refereed journals. In this paper, we will give a comprehensive update of the satellite status after more than 18 years of operations in a harsh space environment, and an account of the successful Ground Segment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101629
JournalNew Astronomy Reviews
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Gamma-ray observatory
  • Gamma-ray instruments
  • Gamma-ray sources


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