Swift is a NASA medium sized explorer mission, developed in collaboration with UK and Italy. It was successfully launched on November 20, 2004 from Cape Canaveral (USA). The primary scientific objectives are to determine the origin of Gamma Ray Bursts (GRB) and to pioneer their use as probes of the early universe. Swift is a multiwavelegth observatory carrying three instruments: the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT; Gamma Ray), the X-ray Telescope (XRT) and the Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT).
The Swift key characteristics are the rapid response to newly detected GRB and rapid data dissemination. As soon as the BAT discovers a new GRB, Swift rapidly relays its 1-4 arcmin position estimate to the ground and triggers an autonoumos spacecraft slew to bring the burst within the field of view of XRT and UVOT to follow-up the afterglow.
Swift is expected to provide redshifts for the bursts and multi-wavelength lightcurves for the duration of the afterglow. The BAT will also perform a high sensitivity hard X-ray sky survey.
Mission CharacteristicsLifetime : 20 November 2004 (2-year nominal mission).
Energy Range : 0.2 - 150 keV plus UV/Optical telescope (170-650 nm).
Special Features : Autonomous spacecraft response to GRB. Accurate position estimates within minutes. Multiwavelength observations.