While ESA’s INTEGRAL spacecraft prepares for launch in October 2002, the
INTEGRAL Science Data Centre at Versoix (Switzerland) is getting ready for
operations. On 11 April 2002, the doors of the centre – which will prepare
and distribute the INTEGRAL data to the worldwide astronomical community
– will be open to the European scientific community and to the press.

The task of INTEGRAL, the most sensitive gamma-ray observatory ever
launched, will be to gather some of the most energetic radiation that
comes from space. It will pinpoint and study gamma-ray sources in
unprecedented detail and will help to solve some of the biggest mysteries
in astronomy: INTEGRAL will investigate the origin of enigmatic gamma-ray
bursts, brief but extremely powerful releases of energy, and will bring
much new information on stellar explosions and black holes. Not only does
INTEGRAL tell us about places where we could not live, it also tell us
about the processes that made the Universe habitable, such as the
formation of chemical elements.

The INTEGRAL Science Data Centre (ISDC), located near Geneva, represents
the key element in the exploitation and analysis of the data that will
come from INTEGRAL during the two years planned for in-orbit operations.
In the centre, the data will be analysed, formatted and made accessible to
the worldwide astronomical community. Such fundamental work on INTEGRAL
data guarantees that data can be exploited by a wide community of
astronomers, including those who are not familiar with the instrumentation
used for gamma-ray observations.

The ISDC is supported and funded by a dozen institutes in Europe and the
United States (the ISDC consortium). The press conference on 11 April
marks the end of the centre’s development phase and the start of its
operational phase.

The presence of the ISDC in Switzerland represents a particular
opportunity for Swiss scientists, who will participate in a special way to
the development of high-energy particle astrophysics, as a result of
having privileged access to INTEGRAL data.

Speakers at the press conference will include Professor T. Courvoisier
(Geneva Observatory, Principal Investigator of the INTEGRAL Science Data
Centre), Doctor P. Creola, (Head of Swiss Space Office), and Professor D.
Southwood (Director of Science at the European Space Agency).

Note to editors

INTEGRAL, ESA’s International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory, will be
launched in October 2002 on a Proton rocket from Baikonour, Kazakhstan.

The spacecraft is currently subject to final testing at ESA’s European
Space Research & Technology Centre (ESTEC) in Noordwijk, the Netherlands,
while the ground segment facilities – from which INTEGRAL operations will
be controlled – are preparing for final review in June.

The spacecraft will be shipped to the launch site in August 2002.

* * *

The ISDC consortium, lead by Professor Thierry Courvoisier (Geneva
Observatory, Switzerland), consists of scientific institutes in
Switzerland (Observatoire de Genëve, Sauverny), Belgium (Institut
d’Astrophysique – Universitè de Liëge), Czech Republic (Astronomical
Institute – Academy of Sciences, Ondrejov), Denmark (Copenhagen
University Observatory; Danish Space Research Institute, Copenhagen),
Ireland (University College Dublin), Italy (Istituto di Fisica Cosmica –
CNR, Milan; Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale -Tor Vergata, Rome), Finland
(Metsähovi Radio Observatory, Kylm), France (Service d’Astrophysique –
Centre d’Etudes de Saclay), Germany (Universität Tübingen – Inst. für
Astronomie und Astrophysik; Max-Planck Institut für extrater. Physik
Garching), USA (NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt), Poland (N. Copernicus Astronomical
Centre, Warsaw), United Kingdom (University of Southampton; University of
Birmingham) and the USA (NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt).

* * *

Media wishing to attend the press conference are requested to complete the
reply form attached below and return it via fax to:

ISDC (INTEGRAL Science Data Centre)

Fax: +41 22 950 91 33

Tel: +41 22 950 91 00

For further information please contact:

ESA – Communication Department

Media Relations Office

Tel: +33(0)1 53 69 7155

Fax: +33(0)1 53 69 7690

Prof. Thierry J. L. Courvoisier, Principal Investigator of the ISDC

Versoix, Switzerland

Tel: +41 22 950 91 01

E-mail: Thierry.Courvoisier@obs.unige.ch

Dr Arvind Parmar, ESA – Acting INTEGRAL Project Scientist

ESA – ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

Tel: +31 71 565 4532

E-mail: Arvind.Parmar@esa.int

For more information on the INTEGRAL mission and the ESA Science
Programme, visit the ESA Science website at: http://sci.esa.int/integral

Further information on the INTEGRAL Science Data Centre can be found at:

Event programme

Location: INTEGRAL Science Data Centre

16, Chemin d’Ecogia



The press conference will be held partly in French, partly in English.

10:30 – Introduction & Welcome,
by Prof. Thierry Courvoisier, Geneva Observatory, Principal Investigator
of the ISDC (in French)

10:35 – – INTEGRAL in the context of the ESA Scientific Programme,
by Prof. David Southwood, ESA Director of Science (in English with support
material in French)

10:45 – The INTEGRAL mission, by Dr Kai Clausen, INTEGRAL Project Manager
(in English with support material in French)

10:55 – The INTEGRAL instruments, by Dr Arvind Parmar, acting INTEGRAL
Project Scientist (in English with support material in French)

11:05 – INTEGRAL Science and the INTEGRAL Science Data Centre, by Prof.
Thierry Courvoiser, Geneva Observatory, Principal Investigator of
the ISDC (in French)

11:20 – Switzerland & Space, by Dr P. Creola, ,Head of Swiss Space Office
(in French)

11:30 – Conclusions, by Prof. Thierry Courvoiser (in French)

Press Conference

Thursday 11 April 2002 - 10h30

Location: INTEGRAL Science Data Centre (ISDC)
16, Chemin d'Ecogia

Name: _________________________   First Name: _______________________

Media: ______________________________________________________________

Address: ____________________________________________________________



Tel: _________________________      Fax: ____________________________

Mobile: ______________________	   e-mail : _________________________

[  ] I will participate in the press conference

[   ] I will not participate in the press conference

To be returned by fax to: ISDC
Fax: +41 22 950 91 33
Tel: +41 22 950 91 00