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The International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE, formerly SAS-D) satellite was a spaceborne ultraviolet astronomical observatory for use as an international facility. The IUE contained a 45-cm telescope solely for spectroscopy in the wavelength range o 1150 to 3250 A. The satellite and optical instrumentation were provided by the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). The television cameras, used as detectors, were provided by the United Kingdom Science Engineering Research Council (SERC, formerly UKSRC). The European Space Agency (ESA, formerly ESRO) supplied solar paddles for the satellite and a European Control Center. After launch, two-thirds of the observing time was directed from a control center at GSFC; one-third of the time the satellite was operated from the European Control Center near Madrid. The IUE observatory was in a synchronous orbit.

The 45 cm Ritchey-Chretien f/15 telescope fed a spectrograph package. The spectrograph package, using secondary electron conduction (SEC) Vidicon cameras as detectors, covered the spectral range from 1150 to 3250 A, operating in either a high- or low-resolution mode with resolutions of approximately 0.1 and 6 A, respectively. The SEC Vidicons could integrate the signal for up to many hours. At high resolution, spectra of stellar sources were obtained as faint as 12th magnitude, while at lower resolution, observations had been made of sources fainter than 17th magnitude. The latter observations required 14 hours of integration time.

Listings of guest observers and their investigations can be obtained from the IUE Newsletter, IUE Observatory, Code 685, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, U.S.A. For more details, see A. Boggess et al., Nature, v. 275, p. 372, 1978; A. Boggess et al., Nature, v. 275 p. 377, 1978.

IUE was shut down at 18:42 UT, 30 September 1996.

Alternate Names

  • International Ultraviolet Explorer
  • Explorer 57
  • 10637

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1978-01-26
Launch Vehicle: Delta
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 669.0 kg
Nominal Power: 424.0 W

Funding Agencies

  • European Space Agency (International)
  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)
  • Science and Engineering Research Council, UK (United Kingdom)


  • Astronomy
  • Planetary Science
  • Space Physics

Additional Information

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



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Dr. Edward J. WeilerProgram ScientistNASA
Mr. Frederick Gordon, Jr.Mission Operations ManagerNASA Goddard Space Flight Center 
Dr. Guenter R. ReiglerProgram ManagerNASA
Dr. Yoji KondoProject ScientistNASA Goddard Space Flight
Dr. Andrew G. MichalitsianosDeputy Project ScientistNASA Goddard Space Flight Center 
Mr. Paul J. PashbyProject ManagerNASA Goddard Space Flight Center 

Selected References

Boggess, A., et al., IUE spacecraft and instrumentation, Nature, 275, No. 5679, 372-376, Oct. 1978.

Boggess, A., et al., In-flight performance of the IUE, Nature, 275, No. 5, 377-385, Oct. 1978.

US Active Archive for IUE Information/Data

The IUE Archive at MAST(STScI)

Other Sources of IUE Information/Data

IUE Project at ESA

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