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Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite, also called SMEX 3


Designation 25560 / 98071A
Launch date 6 Dec 1998
Country of origin United States
Mission Scientific: Astronomy
Perigee/Apogee 600/650 km
Inclination 70°
Launch vehicle Pegasus XL #25

The SWAS mission is an outgrowth of the scientific interest in the exploration of the submillimeter wavelength region for astronomy. SWAS will be a pioneering step in submillimeter astronomy in space. The SWAS mission is designed to study molecular clouds in the galactic plane, providing a mini and full survey of the clouds, leading towards the development of maps. It will also perform quick-look chemistry on the structure and content of these molecular clouds, and will research extragalactic sources.

After being desactivated in 2004, the satellite was reactivated in Jun 2005 to monitor comet Tempel 1 after its impact with Deep Impact. It should be desactivated again in Aug 2005.

External resources


sat-index articles

Technical data


Prime contractor  
Mass at launch 288 kg
Payload mass 102 kg
Solar array  
Stabilization 3-axis
DC power 230 W
Design lifetime 2 years

Telemetry: 2215 MHz (realtime: 18.75 kbps, playback: 1.8 Mbps), 5 W transmitter
Command: 2039.65 MHz (2 kbps)

The instrument consists of an off-axis Cassegrain telescope, receiver, Acousto-Optical Spectrometer (AOS), instrument control electronics (ICE) and a thermal control subsystem.

The satellite has a 0.6m telescope with a 490 to 550 GHz submillimeter receiver and an acousto-optical spectrometer.

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