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SIGNE 3 was a French satellite placed in orbit by the Soviet Union under a cooperative agreement. This satellite was part of the D2 series. It carried two scientific experiments, one for gamma-ray astronomy in the energy range 20 keV to 10 MeV, and one for continuous monitoring of the solar spectrum in two ultraviolet bands (1800 to 1950 a and 2050 to 2200 a). The main body of the spacecraft was a cylinder 70 cm in diameter and 81 cm in height. Electrical power was supplied by four solar panels extending 1.3 m from the spacecraft axis. The solar array provided 50 w to silver cadmium storage batteries. The telemetry equipment consisted of a PCM-PM system, using a 136.7-Mhz, 0.5-w transmitter. Real-time data rate was 256 bps. An onboard tape recorder extended the data coverage until its failure in March 1978. The command system operated at 148.5 Mhz and provided 54 separate commands. The telemetry network included three French stations (Toulouse, Pretoria, and Kourou) and five NASA stations (Ascension Is., Santiago, Quito, Orroral, and Merrit Is.) The satellite control center was at Toulouse. The satellite axis was pointed towards the sun at a 10-deg angle with respect to the sun/earth line. Nitrogen gas jets were used to maintain this orientation.

Alternate Names

  • Solar Interplanetary Gamma-Neutron Experiment 3
  • SIGNE3

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1977-06-17
Launch Vehicle: Modified SS-5 (SKean IRBM) plus Upper Stage
Launch Site: Kapustin Yar, U.S.S.R
Mass: 102 kg

Funding Agencies

  • Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (France)
  • Intercosmos (U.S.S.R)


  • Solar Physics
  • Astronomy

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Gerard O. ThuillierProject ScientistCNRS, Service d'
Dr. M. NielProject ScientistCNRS Centre d'Etudes Spatiale des Rayonments
Mr. KremnevProject ManagerRussian Academy of Sciences-Institute of Atmospheric Physics
Dr. Antoine MizziProject ManagerCentre National d'Etudes Spatiales
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