The X-ray astronomy satellite BeppoSAX (Satellite per Astronomia X, “Beppo” in honor of Giuseppe Occhialini) was launched from Cape Canaveral Base by an Atlas G-Centaur on April 30 1996 at 4:31 GMT, into a circular equatorial orbit of 3.9 deg inclination and 600 km altitude.
The scientific payload comprised four Narrow Field Instruments (LECS, MECS, HPGSPC, PDS), one Gamma Ray Burst Monitor, and two Wide Field Cameras; such a payload resulted in a wide spectral coverage, ranging from 0.1 to 300 keV.
Our Institute (as IFCAI) played a primary role in the definition, design, realization and scientific responsibility of two telescopes on board BeppoSAX, namely the HPGSPC (High Pressure Gas Scintillation Proportional Counter) and the MECS (Medium Energy Concentrator/Spectrometer), this last one in collaboration with the IFCTR Institute (now IASF-Milano). Moreover, our Institute contributed to the definition of the BeppoSAX data analysis system, and participated to the scientific management of the mission and to the definition of its observing program.
Furthermore, almost all the scientists at IFCAI were strongly involved in the scientific analysis of the BeppoSAX observational data and a consistent number of scientific publications has been produced.
As planned, on April 30 2002 at 13:38 GMT, after six years of active life, the BeppoSAX spacecraft has been permanently switched-off, terminating all in-orbit operations.
This did not mean that no more work had to be done: during its six years of active life BeppoSAX performed nearly 1500 observations of most classes of cosmic sources. For many years the IASF-Palermo scientists continued the work of data reduction and analysis; topics of interest mainly were: accreting Binaries, Gamma Ray Bursts, Isolated Pulsars.
Almost all the IASF-Palermo staff was involved in BeppoSAX with different commitments and tasks.
For more details about the satellite and the mission, please visit the Beppe Sax official site.