The status of INTEGRAL – the International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics
Laboratory of the European Space Agency (ESA) – and the Irish involvement
in the mission are being presented at a press conference organised in
Dublin on 4 October (12h00) by the Royal Irish Academy (RIA – 19 Dawson
street, Dublin 2), Enterprise Ireland and ESA.

Space observatories are today helping astronomers discover and understand
the furthest reaches of the Universe. But the origin of gamma-ray bursts,
brief but extremely powerful explosions, is still one of the great cosmic

INTEGRAL will be a space observatory whose objective is to gather gamma
rays, the most energetic radiation that comes from space, pinpointing and
studying their sources with an unprecedented resolution and sensitivity.

In addition to tracking down gamma-ray bursts, the observatory will bring
much new information on stellar explosions, black holes and the formation
of elements. With no other dedicated gamma-ray mission on the horizon, the
world’s scientists are eagerly awaiting the start of the mission, just 12
months away.

Ireland’s astronomers and astrophysicists will be privileged users.
Professor Brian McBreen of University College Dublin, and Professor Evert
Meurs of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) and Director of
Dunsink Observatory, are both co-investigators for the Optical Monitor
Camera (OMC), one of INTEGRAL’s four science instruments. Their teams have
also contributed to the science analysis software to be used at the
INTEGRAL Science Data Centre (ISDC). Professor McBreen, an authority in
the field of gamma-ray bursts, was one of the founding fathers of the
project in the 1980s that subsequently led to INTEGRAL.

The spacecraft is currently undergoing environmental tests at ESA’s
Technical and Research Centre (ESTEC) in the Netherlands. The launch, on a
Russian Proton rocket from BaÔkonour, is scheduled for October 2002.

Speakers at the press conference will include , Ireland’s Minister for
Commerce, Science and Technology Mr. Noel Treacy, the President of RIA
Professor T.D. Spearman, and Professor David Southwood, Director of
Science at the European Space Agency and the Irish co-investigators.

For further information please contact:

ESA – Communication Department

Media Relations Office

Tel: +33(0)

Fax: +33(0)

Ruth Hegarty, Royal Irish Academy

Tel +353 1 638 0918

Fax +353 1 676 2346


For more information on the Integral mission and the ESA Science
Programme, visit the ESA Science website at:

Event programme

(Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2) (verify)

o Welcome by the President of RIA

o Address by Mr Noel Treacy, TD, Minister for Commerce, Science and

o Adress by Prof Southwood, ESA Director of Science

o Role and research aspirations of the Irish teams – Prof Brian McBreen of
UCD and Prof Evert Meurs of Dias, Director of Dunsink Observatory.

o Questions and Answers

Press Conference

Royal Irish Academy

19, Dawson Street, Dublin 2

Thursday 4 October 2001 – 12h00

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Ruth Hegarty
Royal Irish Academy
Fax: +353.1.676.2346