X-ray astronomy has been one of the main activity of IASF-Palermo since its foundation with the participation to the European Spatial Agency (ESA) missions EXOSAT (launched in May 1983) and SpaceLab. Since 1980 to the end of the mission, IASF-Palermo researchers were strongly involved in the BeppoSAX satellite.
Read more about BeppoSAX.
The activity on X-ray astronomy is still continuing with Swift (link), IXO, NHXRM and with the reduction and analysis of available data from space missions.
IASF-Palermo began its activity in Gamma-ray astronomy with the participation to international collaborations working on the design of spatial projects in astrophysics:
1. The French-Italian collaboration MI-SA-PA for a balloon campaign from the south of France with on board a sparks chamber for the observation of the Crab Nebula. The research, developed between 1968 and 1975, revealed for the first time pulsed radiation from the Crab pulsar at energies higher than 50 MeV;
2. The ESA mission COS-B based on the use of a sparks chamber on board a satellite. The Caravan Collaboration managing COS-B, born on 1965, lasted about twenty years. The activity linked to COS-B produced important scientific results (as the detection of emission above 50 MeV from the Vela pulsar) and paved the way for the acquisition of the scientific and technical knowledge for the development of successive research programs. To the COS-B activity was also related a radio-astronomy research project that, brought to the discovery, from IFCAI researchers, of the first fast binary pulsar PSR 1953+29;
3. The French-Italian experiment FIGARO, a balloon-borne detector designed for the study of pulsars. FIGARO was successfully launched several times from Sicily and, for the study of the south hemisphere, from Charlesville in Australia;
4. The space experiment CGRO.
Actually IASF-Palermo researcher are involved in the missions INTEGRAL (link) and Fermi.
From 1987 to 1995 IASF-Palermo researchers participated to the English-Italian experiment PLASTEX for the earth observation of cosmic-rays from secondary showers produced by the interaction with the atmosphere.
In 1998 the IASF-Palermo activates the program “AirWatch from Space” and thereafter was involved in the definition, planning and realization of the international mission EUSO. Since then IASF-Palermo groups are deeply involved in astroparticle experimental activities and in particular in those related to the EUSO mission.
Read more about EUSO / JEM-EUSO.
In this framework, laboratory experiments have been identified as propaedeutic supporting activities for the UV fluorescence yield. Laboratory measurements of UV fluorescence yield at low energy, using the X-ray facility LAX located in Palermo, have been performed in 1998-2000 with the ONLY (Oxygen Nitrogen Light Yield) experiment.
Read more about LAX
Read more about ONLY
Conceived and designed in the framework of the EUSO mission, the ULTRA (Uv Light Transmission and Reflection in the Atmosphere) experiment had been designed to provide quantitative measurements of the reflection and diffusion signal produced by Extensive Air Showers (EAS) impacting on the Earth surface. ULTRA first complete campaign of measurements was performed at the Capo Granitola site in 2005.
Read more about ULTRA
The program “AirWatch from Space” included also support activities: the systematic observation of the UV nocturnal atmospheric background was the main objective of the balloon-borne experiment BaBy that flew from the Milo-Trapani base of the ASI (Italian Space Agency) in four different flight campaigns.
Read more about BaBy
The IASF-Palermo was also involved in the ARGO-YBJ experiment. Its aim was to study cosmic rays, mainly cosmic gamma-radiation, by means of the detection of small size air showers.This goal was achieved by operating a full coverage array in the Yang Ba Jing Laboratory (Tibet, China) at 4300 m a.s.l. .
Read more about ARGO-YBJ
Until 2004, a group of researcher working in Computer science was present at IASF (previously IFCAI). Their first line of research focused on methods for the analysis of astronomy data coming from space experiments with particular attention to data with low statistic and low signal-to-noise ratio. Another line of research focuses on the analysis of images from movies using techniques of advanced calculation on parallel computer.