The SWIFT gamma-ray burst observatory

A. Wells, N. Gehrels, N. White, S. D. Barthelmy, J. A. Nousek, D. N. Burrows, P. Roming, K. O. Mason, G. Chincarini, P. Giommi

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The Swift Gamma Ray Burst Explorer, chosen in October 1999 as NASA's next MIDEX mission, is now scheduled for launch in October 2004. SWIFT carries three complementary instruments. The Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) identifies gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and determines their location on the sky to within a few arc-minutes. Rapid slew by the fast-acting SWIFT spacecraft points the two narrow field instruments, an X-ray Telescope (XRT) and an Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT), to within the BAT error circle within 70 seconds of a BAT detection. The XRT can determine burst locations to within 5 arc-seconds and measure X-ray spectra and photon flux, whilst the UVOT has a sensitivity down to 24th magnitude and sub arc-second positional accuracy in the optical/uv band. The three instruments combine to make a powerful multi-wavelength observatory with the capability for rapid determination of GRB positions to arc-second accuracy within a minute or so of their discovery, and the ability to measure light-curves and red-shifts of the bursts and after-glows. The paper summarises the mission's readiness for October's launch and operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-414
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Issue numberPART 1
StatePublished - 2004
EventUV and Gamma-Ray Space Telescope Systems - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: Jun 21 2004Jun 24 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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