Science News

40th anniversary of IUE at ESAC

Leire Beitia-Antero 30.01.2018

40th anniversary of IUE at ESAC
Courtesy of Peter Kretschmar

Cellebration of the 40th anniversary of the International Ultraviolet Explorer launch at the European Space Astronomy Center (former VILSPA)
Villafranca, Spain.

On January 26th, 1978 the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) was launched. Forty years have  passed and still this mission is alive, not only in the hearts of all the scientists that worked with it but also in current research.
The IUE observatory was the result of a collaboration among NASA, the UK Science Research Council and the European Space Agency (ESA) with a planned lifetime of 3 years but lasting eventually up to 18, providing the greatest and most important data base in the ultraviolet range prior to the Hubble Space Telescope. It was controlled from two different stations: the Goddard Space Flight Center (Maryland, United States) and ESA's ground station at Villanueva de la Cañada (Madrid, Spain), where many young scientists of the epoch started their scientific carreer. Those fortunate researchers have worked really hard since then to transmit the legacy of the IUE as well as their passion for science, and all of them have contributed to keep the IUE community active.
Many key discoveries have been made thanks to the IUE, where the most remarkables are the observation of Supernova 1987a in the Magellanic Cloud and the first detection of molecular sulfur in a comet. The archive treasures 104,470 ultraviolet spectra that have been used in more than 250 Ph.D dissertations and in more than 2,000 scientific articles, and its inestimable contribution to Astronomy and Astrophysics well deserves an acknowledgement by the community.
Our sincere gratitude to all those people that devoted their life to make IUE possible, especially to those that are no longer with us. Congratulations for these 40 years of successful work.