23 March 2000
|Nature404, 326 - 327 (2000) © Macmillan Publishers Ltd.|
Free Internet access to veteran satellite's data
[ MUNICH] Nearly twenty years' worth of data gathered by the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE), a satellite launched in 1978 by the US, European and British space agencies, is being made freely available through the Internet. When IUE was switched off in 1996, life expectancy had been exceeded by some fourteen years, and its output has become the most heavily used astronomical database in existence.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has created a new, decentralized distribution system, INES, which allows the IUE archive to be accessed freely and quickly via the Internet. The wealth of information from the more than 110,000 ultraviolet spectra gathered by the mission still promises to become a "mine of discoveries for future astronomers", says Willem Wamsteker, an ESA IUE project scientist.