The launch of the satellite-gamma ray detector is foreseen on Monday 23rd at 12.00
From the Indian base of Shriharikota, the count-down for the Agile (Astro rivelatore gamma a immagini leggero – Light astro gamma ray image detector) satellite has begun: the launch is foreseen on Monday 23 April at 12.00 Italian time.
First of the small scientific missions programmed a few years ago by the Italian Space Agency, Agile carries with it, in orbit 550 km high, a scientific instrument built with the substantial contribution of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics.
“Agile is a mission designed to explore some very important fields of high energy astrophysics. Taken globally, the detector has the exclusive and original characteristic of combining into a single instrument detectors for gamma rays of energies between 30 MeV and 50 GeV and of X rays between 15 and 60 KeV. This peculiarity will allow it to study sources and phenomena in evolution, which show up simultaneously with the emission of radiation whose wavelenghths sometimes vary enormously”, declares Piergiorgio Picozza, director of the Infn division at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and member of the scientific committee for Agile.
Also, thanks to this project, and in tight collaboration with Inaf, Asi and the Universities, the Infn means to keep increasing its activity in this sector.
“This convergence is solicited by a new and exciting reality” declares Roberto Peronzio, President of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics. “In these past years, in fact, while research develops in the laboratories where the conditions for studying fundamental interactions are created, at the same time the possibilities of observing and studying those cosmic phenomena that make of the Universe an immense theatre of natural particle accelerators are multiplied. It’s not a chance that the instruments and the techniques born for the study of elementary particles are more and more often used in space missions. It’s also for this reason that, for many years, the study of energetic gamma radiations coming from the cosmos and of the astrophysical sources have been part of the Infn’s reasearch programs, realizing and designing new experiments in space and on earth. Therefore, the contribution to the Agile mission is perfectly inserted in this effort towards knowledge and development of instruments for the understanding of the fundamental interactions of our Universe”.
“A central element of Agile” - explains Picozza - “is the Silicon Tracker, a silicon image tracker, built by the Infn division of Trieste. It is especially dedicated to the detection of gamma rays and it is composed of 28 layers of silicon microstrips alternating with layers of tungsten. Here, each incident gamma photon transforms into an electron-positron couple and it can be detected thanks to the signal emitted by the passage of these charged particles in the silicon”.