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Successful launch of AGILE satellite with Thales Alenia Space payload & electronic devices on board

23 April 2007

Rome, April 23, 2007 - The Italian astronomical satellite AGILE (Astro-rivelatore Gamma a Immagini Leggero), has been successfully launched today at 12:00, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in India by a PSLV-C8 rocket. The AGILE satellite, put into a 550 km circular orbit, will acquire, identify and catalogue sources of galactic and extra-galactic "X" and gamma rays. In addition to these mysterious sources, AGILE will investigate the presence of black holes in our galaxy, gamma-ray bursts, neutron stars and galactic explosions.

Thales Alenia Space was responsible of the development and integration of the AGILE payload as part of an organization formed by a very close collaboration between the Italian Space Agency, the Italian aero-space industry and research bodies and universities. The design, development and fabrication activities of the satellite were led by Carlo Gavazzi Space, Milan, Italy.

The AGILE payload's key innovation is the simultaneous nature of the measurements which can be carried out in X and gamma frequency bands. This enables the investigation of the various aspects phenomenon being observed at the exact instant it occurs, improving our fundamental knowledge of the laws of physics governing our Universe.

The AGILE payload is constituted by four integrated instruments, each equipped with electronics to detect the signals:

* A Mini-calorimeter for gamma-rays based on 30 crystal bars of Cesium Iodide
* A Silicon tracker contains 12 detection layers, each with 32 silicon detectors
* SuperAgile realized with four quadrants of silicon detectors and a collimator equipped with a tungsten codified mask
* An Anti-Coincidence System which is an active shield composed of plastic detectors. By rejection of unwanted cosmic particles the Anti-coincidence increases the overall sensitivity of the payload.

The signals produced by the instruments are processed directly on board by a calculator, also realized by Thales Alenia Space, and using sophisticated scientific algorithms.

This new mission further consolidates the role of Thales Alenia Space to supply instruments for the Universe observation started by COS-B and carried on with EXOSAT, Beppo SAX, XMM-EPIC and INTEGRAL IBIS.

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