Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite

Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite

Submillimter Wave Astronomy Satellite
Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS)
Operator NASA
Mission type Orbiter
Launch date 05-12-1998 14:13:00 UTC
Launch vehicle Pegasus XL
Launch site Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, United States
Mission duration December 1998 - July 2004
Satellite of Earth
COSPAR ID 1998-071A
Homepage [1]
Mass 288 kg (635 lb)
Power 230.0 W

The Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS) was an astronomical observatory launched on December 5, 1998 as part of the Small Explorer program within NASA. Investigators at Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Goddard Space Flight Center designed the telescope and the spacecraft, respectively.

The satellite examined microwaves from 487–556 GHz that originated in water molecules, molecular oxygen, atomic carbon, and carbon monoxide in space. This corresponds to wavelengths of about 0.54 to 0.61 millimeters (540 to 610 μm).[1]

SWAS made observations until July 21, 2004. In June 2005, the spacecraft was reactivated for a 3-month period (after a year of stand-by operation) in order to observe the effects of the Deep Impact probe's collision with comet P/Tempel 1.[2]

The main optic of SWAS is a 55 cm x 71 cm elliptical off-axis Cassegrain telescope, sending light into a pair of Schottky diode receivers.[3]

SWAS observed a unique area of the spectrum alternately described as submillimeter (for the wavelength of light seen), microwave, radio, and/or far infrared.

Name Year Wavelength Aperture
Human Eye - 0.39-0.75 μm 0.01 m
SWAS 1998 540 - 610 μm 0.55 - 0.7
Spitzer 2003 3-180 μm 0.85 m
Hubble WFC3 2009 0.2-1.7 μm 2.4 m
Herschel 2009 60-672 μm 3.5 m

See also


  1. ^ Nearfield - SWAS
  2. ^ "The SWAS Mission". NASA. 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  3. ^ IRSA - SWAS (Caltech)
  4. ^ JPL: Herschel Space Observatory: Related Missions

External links

  • SWAS homepage at Harvard
  • IRSA - SWAS at Caltech
  • Small Explorer project: Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS). Mission operations and data analysis plan