BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Sci/Tech
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Monday, 9 October, 2000, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Gamma-ray hunter launched
Hete-2 Nasa
Hete-2 will investigate the cosmic ripple from huge explosions
By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse

A satellite designed to detect mysterious bursts of gamma rays from the far reaches of the Universe was launched into orbit on Monday.

The High Energy Transient Explorer-2 (Hete-2) went into space on a Pegasus booster, after being released from the underside of an aircraft wing.

The rocket separated from the L 1011 "Stargazer" plane at 11,890 metres (39,000 ft). Within minutes, Hete-2 was delivered into an orbit ranging from 637 to 650 kilometres (396 to 406) and inclined 1.9 degrees to the equator.

Its four-year mission is to investigate the most powerful explosions in the Universe since the Big Bang. The satellite can locate the high-energy bursts of radiation, and e-mail alerts to astronomers.

Hete-2 Nasa
The Pegasus rocket was released at 11,890 metres
It is hoped that Hete-2 will enable scientists to catch a burst while it is still going on.

A possible explanation for the mysterious events which last from milliseconds to a few minutes is the collision of two black holes or a particular type of star explosion called a hypernova.

Hete-2, which cost $8.4 million, carries three instruments to detect the bursts, and is a replacement for the original Hete that was lost in a launch failure of a Pegasus rocket almost four years ago.

Monday's release was from an aircraft that had taken off from the Kwajalien Missile Range on the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. It was the first time that a satellite had been put up from the site known for testing ballistic missiles.

It was also the 30th flight for the Pegasus rocket in its 10-year programme.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

25 Mar 99 | Sci/Tech
Space blast teaser
09 May 98 | Sci/Tech
Aussies spy 'birth' of black hole
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Sci/Tech stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Sci/Tech stories