ESA’s ‘first’ satellite: COS-B



This weekend sees the 45th anniversary of the launch of Cos-B, the primary satellite tv for pc to be launched underneath the banner of the newly created European Space Agency, on 9 August 1975.

Cos-B was the primary European mission to review gamma-ray sources and to be devoted to a single experiment. The idea for Cos-B was first put ahead by the European scientific neighborhood within the mid-1960s and permitted by the European Space Research Organisation (ESRO) Scientific and Technical Committee in 1969.“Its mission was to map the sky, in particular the Milky Way, in the light of gamma rays with energy greater than 50 MeV. Such gamma rays may be produced by cosmic rays (relativistic protons and electrons), interacting with the interstellar medium, starlight and magnetic fields,” stated Brian Taylor, the previous ESA Cos-B Project Scientist.“The goal was to seek for cosmic websites the place these particles is likely to be accelerated to relativistic speeds. Being charged, their arrival instructions at Earth bear no relation to their level of origin, since their trajectories are ‘scrambled’ by the interstellar magnetic fields whereas gamma rays come straight to us.

COS-B launch
“Uniquely, Cos-B carried a single instrument, conceived in the mid-1960s and approved for flight by the ESRO Council in 1969. Up to that point, ESRO’s early satellites carried typically seven separate instruments, so Cos-B was really a case of all eggs in one basket.“Not only that, finding gamma rays among the 10 000 times more numerous charged-particle cosmic rays was akin to finding the needle in the haystack,” stated Brian Taylor.The satellite tv for pc’s fundamental improvement began in February 1972, with the prime contractor MBB Ottobrunn, Germany, and with co- and subcontractors in Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK. The gamma-ray instrument was designed and constructed by a consortium of 5 institutes from Germany, the Netherlands, France and Italy.Cos-B was launched on behalf of ESA on a Thor Delta 2913 launch car from the Western Test Range, California, on 9 August 1975. It had a design life of 1 12 months with sufficient consumables and margins for an additional 12 months of operations. In reality, Cos-B went on to operate efficiently for six years and eight months, 4 years longer than deliberate. It was lastly switched off on 25 April 1982.The evaluation of the scientific information and the manufacturing of the mission’s scientific archive have been accomplished by 1985, ten years after launch. During its life, Cos-B had elevated the quantity of knowledge on gamma rays by an element of 25. Scientific outcomes included the 2CG Catalogue, itemizing round 25 gamma ray sources, and the primary full gamma-ray map of the Milky Way. The satellite tv for pc additionally noticed the X-ray binary Cygnus X-Three and the primary gamma-ray energetic galactic nucleus, 3C 273.

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