The High Energy Transient Explorer (HETE ) mission is devoted to the study of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) using soft X-ray, medium X-ray, and gamma-ray instruments mounted on a compact spacecraft. The HETE satellite was launched into equatorial orbit on 9 October 2000. A science team from France, Japan, Brazil, India, Italy, and the US is responsible for the HETE mission, which was completed for ~ 1/3 the cost of a NASA Small Explorer (SMEX). The HETE mission is unique in that it is entirely ``self-contained,'' insofar as it relies upon dedicated tracking, data acquisition, mission operations, and data analysis facilities run by members of its international Science Team. A powerful feature of HETE is its potential for localizing GRBs within seconds of the trigger with good precision (~ 10') using medium energy X-rays and, for a subset of bright GRBs, improving the localization to ~ 30''accuracy using low energy X-rays. Real-time GRB localizations are transmitted to ground observers within seconds via a dedicated network of 14 automated ``Burst Alert Stations,'' thereby allowing prompt optical, IR, and radio follow-up, leading to the identification of counterparts for a large fraction of HETE -localized GRBs. HETE is the only satellite that can provide near-real time localizations of GRBs, and that can localize GRBs that do not have X-ray, optical, and radio afterglows, during the next two years. These capabilities are the key to allowing HETE to probe further the unique physics that produces the brightest known photon sources in the universe. To date (December 2002), HETE has produced 31 GRB localizations. Localization accuracies are routinely in the 4'- 20' range; for the five GRBs with SXC localization, accuracies are ~1-2'. In addition, HETE has detected ~ 25 bursts from soft gamma repeaters (SGRs), and >600 X-ray bursts (XRBs).
Gamma-Ray Burst and Afterglow Astronomy 2001: A Workshop Celebrating the First Year of the HETE Mission
- Pub Date:
- April 2003
- Spaceborne and space research instruments apparatus and components;
- gamma-ray sources;
- gamma-ray bursts;
- X- and gamma-ray telescopes and instrumentation