AAS 199th meeting, Washington, DC, January 2002
Session 45. Instrumentation for Space Observations
Display, Tuesday, January 8, 2002, 9:20am-6:30pm, Monroe/Lincoln

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[45.11] Rapid Response Astronomy Using the Swift GRB Explorer

J.A. Nousek, M.M. Chester (Penn State University), N. Gehrels, F.E. Marshall (GSFC), Swift Team

Swift is a multi-wavelength observatory designed for the autonomous detection and immediate follow-up of gamma-ray bursts and their afterglows. Its Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) will detect 100s of GRBs per year, and the observatory will autonomously train sensitive UV/optical and X-ray telescopes on the burst within 10 to 75 seconds. GRB and X-ray positions and a UV/optical finding chart will be rapidly distributed through the GCN to promote ground-based observations. Afterglows will be monitored by Swift for days to weeks. All data will be converted into standard FITS formats and rapidly made available to the community from data centers in the US, Italy, and the UK.

Swift has two additional capabilities. A hard X-ray survey will be performed with the BAT, with daily pointings covering 80% of the sky and immediate follow-up of X-ray transients. Swift will also function as a Target of Opportunity observatory for sources requiring fast response and repeated short-term (days) or longer-term (months) monitoring. Swift will be operated so that its capabilities are available to the entire community.

We believe that use of Swift as a rapid-response spacecraft will open a new window of discovery on the Universe. We encourage astronomers to consider how use of this capability may lead to significant discoveries. The Swift MOC (Mission Operations Center) at Penn State will accept strong proposals for rapid observations and make the ensuing data publicly available.

Swift work at Penn State is supported by NASA contract NAS5-00136.

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