IASF-Palermo was founded in 1981 as IFCAI, an Institute of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR). Main objective was studying the high energy radiation of galactic and extragalactic sources by means of instruments on board space missions.
IFCAI scientists, however, formally belonged since 1968 to a detached section of the CNR Laboratorio di Fisica Cosmica e Tecnologie Relative in Milano.
The original group worked under the scientific guide of prof. Livio Scarsi and included computer scientists who studied and developed mathematical methods for the analysis of images and time series from X and Gamma rays observations
Since its foundation, X-ray astronomy has been one of the main activity of IASF-Palermo. The Institute was part of the European Spatial Agency (ESA) missions EXOSAT (launched in May 1983) and SpaceLab, and since 1980 to the end of the mission, IASF-Palermo researchers were strongly involved in the BeppoSAX satellite.
Gamma-ray astronomy activities at IASF-Palermo started with the design of spatial projects in the framework of international collaborations such as MI-SA-PA, COS-B, FIGARO, CGRO.
As for cosmic rays activities, IASF-Palermo participated to the anglo-italian experiment PLASTEX (1987 to 1995) for the ground based observation of particles showers produced by the interaction with the atmosphere, in 1998 started the program “AirWatch from Space” and thereafter was involved in the definition, planning and realization of the international mission EUSO.