April 24, 2007

India Launches Italian Payload

On Monday, the Italian AGILE satellite was launched into space on top of an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. This was the first commercial launch that India's space program has ever conducted. Foreign spacecrafts have been launched with this vehicle, but this is the first time someone payed India to launch their cargo. The Italian Space Agency's AGILE will detect high-energy emissions. It carries a gamma ray imager, an X-ray detector, and a mini-calorimeter, which will be used to seek transient, or short, events, like gamma ray bursts. These bursts, usually only lasting a few minutes, are powerful and mysterious explosions scattered all over the universe. It has a wide field of view, examining one-fourth of the sky at a time, which allows the spacecraft to have a better chance to find these rare explosions. The craft is very sensitive to gamma rays, also.

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