skip to content
Swift Education and Public Outreach
Goddard Space Flight Center Sonoma State University Education and Public Outreach

Glossary of Missions

The following is a list of missions which have contributed to the study of GRBs. While each listed mission may have made many contributions to GRB science, only one major accomplishment is listed for each.
BeppoSAX (April 1996 - April 2002)
BeppoSAX is an X-ray satellite launched by the Italian Space Agency. BeppoSAX detected the first GRB afterglow in 1997 (GRB 970228).
Chandra (July 1999 - Present)
Chandra is an X-ray telescope launched by NASA. It made the first unambiguous observation of emission lines associated with GRB in 1999 (GRB 991216).
Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (CGRO; April 1991 - June 2000)
CGRO was a gamma-ray observatory launched by NASA to observe the 30 keV - 30 MeV sky. The Burst And Transient Source Experiment (BATSE) aboard CGRO provided the first proof that GRBs did not originate in the Milky Way's disk.
High Energy Transient Explorer 2 (HETE-2; October 2000 - Present)
HETE-2 is the first satellite designed specifically for GRB science. It was launched in 2000, and by the end of 2002 had discovered more than 20 bursts.
Hubble Space Telescope (HST; April 1990 - Present)
The Hubble Space Telescope is an optical telescope launched by NASA. Hubble took the first image that associated a GRB with a potential host galaxy in 1997 (GRB 970228).
Rapid Telescopes for Optical Response (RAPTOR; 2002 - Present)
RAPTOR is an array of telescopes designed to identify and make follow-up observations of optical transients in real-time. RAPTOR performed the second-fastest observation of optical emission from a GRB on December 11, 2002 (GRB 021211)
Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment (ROTSE; 1998 - Present)
ROTSE is a ground-based series of telescopes designed to study optical transient sources. It made the first optical observation of a GRB concurrent with the burst of gamma-rays in 1999 (GRB 990123).
Ulysses (October 1990 - Present)
Ulysses is a joint NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) mission designed to study the solar environment. It is a cornerstone for the InterPlanetary Network (IPN) -- a collection of widely-spaced detectors capable of triangulating the location of a GRB.
Vela satellites (May 1969 - June 1979)
The Vela satellites were a series of satellites launched by the US Air Force in the 1960s to monitor compliance with the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The Vela satellites, instead, discovered gamma-ray bursts.
Very Large Array (VLA; 1980 - Present)
The VLA is a radio telescope in New Mexico. In May 1997 (GRB 970508), the VLA made the first detection of radio waves from a GRB. When it was first measured by the VLA, the burst was only one-tenth of a light-year across, and was expanding at nearly the speed of light. Only radio observations are capable of measuring the size of a GRB.
William Herschel Telescope (WHT; July 1987 - Present)
The William Herschel Telescope is the largest of the telescopes (4.2 meter) that make up the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING) located in La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain. On the February 28, 1997 the WHT took the first image of the optical counterpart of a Gamma-ray Burst (GRB 970228).
XMM-Newton (December 1999 - Present)
XMM-Newton is an X-ray satellite managed by the European Space Agency (ESA). It detected magnesium, sulphur, argon and calcium but little iron in X-ray afterglow it observed in 2001 (GRB 011211). This observation bolsters the argument that GRBs originate from hypernovae, since magnesium, sulphur, argon and calcium are all elements expected to be deposited by a dying star. In addition, the lack of iron is not unexpected, since iron doesn't usually form for several weeks after a supernova blast.

If you have a question about Swift, please contact us via the Feedback form.

This page was last modified on .

Science Mission Directorate Universe Division

  • Questions/Comments/Feedback
  • Find helper applications like Adobe Acrobat
  • Learn about black holes, astronomy & more!
  • A service of the Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics (LHEA) at NASA/ GSFC

    Swift PI: Neil Gehrels,
    Responsible SSU Personnel: Lynn Cominsky
    Web Curator: David McCall
    Privacy, Security, Notices