The Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory

Swift Launch & Early Orbit Timeline

The table below shows key events in Swift's post-launch checkout phase. This schedule may be altered as the engineering or science teams deem necessary. The Performance Verification phase of Swift operations lasts for 135 days after launch. During that time, all Swift data are private to Swift team members. Swift begins public observations at launch +135 days.

Swift launched November 20, 2004. See the Mission Director's Status Report Log for more information on spacecraft events to date.

Acronymns and Abbreviations used below:

BAT: Burst Alert Telescope S/C: Spacecraft (Swift)
FoM: Figure of Merit (special on-board software unit) STBS: Still To Be Scheduled
GCN: Gamma-ray burst Coordinates Network ToO: Target of Opportunity
GRB: Gamma-ray Burst UVOT: Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope
NET: No Earlier Than XRT: X-ray Telescope
Spacecraft or Instrument Event Date Accomplished
Malindi (Ground Station) acquisition; access S/C State of Health Nov. 21
Check S/C clock, adjust (daily, from now on); spacecraft slew testing (continue 14 days) Nov. 22
XRT: Power up electronics & telescope; open sun shutter Nov. 23
FoM: begin logic checks and diagnostics
BAT: begin powering up electronics
Nov. 24
UVOT: begin powering up electronics;
BAT: begin powering up instrument in parts, with testing (continue through Day 20)
Nov. 26
BAT: "First Light" - Cyg X-1 (imaged before full array on) Dec. 3
BAT: early trigger tests (before full instrument powered up) Dec. 8
First Pre-Planned Science Timeline tests Dec. 6
FoM: performance verified Dec. 6-8
XRT: open door Dec. 7 outer
Dec. 11 inner
BAT: full array enabled; trigger testing begins Dec. 11-12
XRT: "First Light" Image (press release) Dec. 12
BAT begins detecting GRBs (found in test data, after bursts reported elsewhere) Dec. 13
UVOT: open door Dec. 14
Spacecraft bus checkout complete (Spacecraft Acceptance Review) Dec. 17
First BAT discovered GRB! (GRB041217) (press release) Dec. 17
First BAT GCN Circular (GCN Circ. 2853) Dec. 17
First XRT detected afterglow! (GRB041223) Dec. 23
First XRT GCN Circular (GCN Circ. 2901) Dec. 24
Automated slewing to GRBs enabled (will be temporarily disabled when UVOT commissioning resumes) Dec. 31
UVOT: commissioning resumes (automated slewing to chase GRBs disabled temporarily; will be re-enabled for short periods, as testing allows) Jan. 4
UVOT: Focus tests Jan. 10-13
First X-ray afterglow detected via autonomous spacecraft slew to burst (GCN info: GRB050117) Jan. 17
UVOT: "First Light" Exposure (several filters) (press release) Jan. 19-21
All 3 instruments in AUTO mode, FoM fully enabled - autonomous slewing to detected GRBs with full instrumentation begins Jan. 25, alternating with calibration obs.
First UVOT GCN Circular (CGN Circ. 2982) Jan. 26
GCN notices automatically sent for new events BAT: Feb. 15 (see GCN)
First UVOT detected afterglow! (GCN Circ. 3115) Mar. 19
Calibration of all 3 Science Instruments (on-going, throughout Performance Verification phase) in progress