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Astron. Astrophys. 315, L27-L31 (1996)

The Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) mission*

M.F. Kessler1, J.A. Steinz2, M.E. Anderegg2, J. Clavel1, G. Drechsel3, P. Estaria2, J. Faelker4, J.R. Riedinger3, A. Robson5, B.G. Taylor3, and S. Ximénez de Ferrán2

1 ISO Science Operations Centre, Astrophysics Division of ESA, P.O. Box 50727, E-28080 Madrid, Spain
2 ISO Project, ESA Directorate of the Scientific Programme, ESTEC, Postbus 299, 2200 AG Noordwijk, The Netherlands
3 Astrophysics Division of ESA, ESTEC, Postbus 299, 2200 AG Noordwijk, The Netherlands
4 ISO Spacecraft Control Centre, Missions Operations Department of ESA, P.O. Box 50727, E-28080 Madrid, Spain
5 ESA Directorate of Operations, ESOC, P.O. Box 406, D-64293 Darmstadt, Germany

Received 22 August 1996 / Accepted 3 September 1996

Abstract. ESA's Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) is an astronomical satellite, operating at wavelengths from 2.5-240 img1.gifm. Essentially, ISO consists of a large cryostat which contained at launch about 2300 litres of superfluid helium to maintain the Ritchey-Chrétien telescope, the scientific instruments and the optical baffles at temperatures of 2-8K. The telescope has a 60-cm diameter primary mirror. A three-axis-stabilisation system provides a pointing accuracy of a few arc seconds. ISO's instrument complement, built by international consortia of scientific institutes and industries, consists of an imaging photo-polarimeter (ISOPHOT), a camera (ISOCAM), a short wavelength spectrometer (SWS) and a long wavelength spectrometer (LWS). ISO was placed into a highly-elliptical orbit in November 1995 by an Ariane 4 launcher. All systems are performing very well and ISO is expected to have an in-orbit lifetime of around 24 months. In keeping with its rôle as an observatory, the majority of ISO's observing time is being made available to the astronomical community in ESA member states, Japan and the USA via ``Calls for Observing Proposals''.

Key words: artificial satellites, space probes - instrumentation: miscellaneous - infrared: general

* ISO is an ESA project with instruments funded by ESA Member States (especially the PI countries: France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) and with the participation of ISAS and NASA.

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