Universe  ID: 10171

Swift: A Decade of Game-Changing Astrophysics

Over the past decade, NASA's Swift Gamma-ray Burst Explorer has proven itself to be one of the most versatile astrophysics missions ever flown. It remains the only satellite capable of precisely locating gamma-ray bursts -- the universe's most powerful explosions -- and monitoring them across a broad range of wavelengths using multiple instruments before they fade from view.

"Swift" isn't just a name -- it's a core capability, a part of the spacecraft's DNA. Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) typically last less than a minute and Swift detects one event about twice a week. Once Swift observes a GRB, it automatically determines the blast's location, broadcasts the position to the astronomical community, and then turns toward the site to investigate with its own sensitive telescopes.

In addition to its studies of GRBs, Swift conducts a wide array of observations of other astrophysical phenomena. A flexible planning system enables astronomers to request Swift "target-of-opportunity" (TOO) observations, which can be commanded from the ground in as little as 10 minutes, or set up monitoring programs to observe specific sources at time intervals ranging from minutes to months. The system can schedule up to 75 independent targets a day.

Earlier this year, Swift ranked highly in NASA's 2014 Senior Review of Operating Missions and will continue its enormously productive scientific work through at least 2016.


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Chris Meaney (HTSI): Lead Animator
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Animator
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Video Editor
Neil Gehrels (NASA/GSFC): Interviewee
Stefan Immler (UMCP): Interviewee
Brad Cenko (NASA/GSFC): Interviewee
Judith Racusin (NASA/GSFC): Interviewee
Alan Wells (U. of Leicester): Interviewee
John Nousek (Pennsylvania State University): Interviewee
Jamie Kennea (Pennsylvania State University): Interviewee
Caryl Gronwall (Pennsylvania State University): Interviewee
Patrizia Caraveo (INAF): Interviewee
Gianpiero Tagliaferri (INAF): Interviewee
Chryssa Kouveliotou (NASA/MSFC): Interviewee
Scott Wiessinger (USRA): Producer
John Caldwell (AIMM): Videographer
Rob Andreoli (AIMM): Videographer
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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

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This item is part of these series:
Narrated Movies
Astrophysics Features

Goddard TV Tape:
G2014-067 -- Swift 10th Anniversary

SVS >> Music
SVS >> X-ray
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Spectral/Engineering >> Gamma Ray
SVS >> Gamma Ray Burst
SVS >> Astrophysics
SVS >> Edited Feature
SVS >> Space
SVS >> Swift
SVS >> Interview
DLESE >> Narrated
NASA Science >> Universe

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version