The Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory

Swift Mission Director's Status Reports from the First Year of the Swift Mission

This log details the first year of operations with the Swift satellite. The log was started as as way to inform the public and the science community about the status of Swift in the early days of the mission. Now that Swift is well into normal operations, the published papers and articles provide a much better description of Swift's status than a log could. The log is therefore retired, and preserved here for historical purposes.

To find out the latest on Swift's performance and discoveries, see the Swift Newsletter (general public) or the Swift Results page (published papers and press info). To see the latest changes in Swift operations, go to the Swift Big Events page.

November 9, 2005

Swift's record of achievement is getting to the point where only highlights can fit into a brief report. I believe it's fair to say that every pre-launch predicted advance in GRB science has been achieved by Swift, within the first year after launch. In just ten months of operation we have discovered the farthest GRB ever seen, identified counterparts to short GRBs, discovered new GRBs at a rate of 100 per year, and explored a brand-new time interval in GRB light curves (which revealed the unpredicted phenomena of GRB flares and rapid X-ray afterglow declines).

Popular recognition also has been coming to the Swift team, as the magazine 'Popular Science' picked Swift as one of its "Best of What's New" award winners for 2005. Discover magazine has included Swift discoveries on several occasions, including the December issue which quotes Dave Burrows.

Kim Page has collected the following statistics on the allocation of Swift observing time. Since the start of normal operations on April 5 to November 2, we have divided our time as follows:

    GRBs - new, followup, ToOs:     64.0%
    Calibration targets:            7.8%
    Non-GRB ToOs:                   7.3%
    Fill-in Targets:                15.6%
    SAA cold points/ non-science:   5.3%
On the technical side, the observatory and the instruments continue to work well. We have adjusted the operating parameters on the spacecraft and UVOT instrument, and nearly eliminated UVOT instrument safing. (Prior to the changes UVOT was inadvertently reducing high voltage because of single sample errors on its safety circuit line, and the observatory was acquiring targets with errors in the range of 6 to 12 arc minutes when rare combinations of large slews were occurring during eclipse time periods.)

Swift has conducted about 20,000 successful slews to targets, and the Flight Operations and Science Operations teams have continuously operated Swift for nearly one year. The latest Flight Dynamics Facility has provided updated orbital lifetime predictions for Swift, and even with the 90% pessimistic predictions we are now hoping for Swift to remain in orbit up to 2022. We are conducting analysis to see what lifetime limiters may pertain for this extended life.

Looking forward to the first birthday of the Swift observatory, and many happy returns in the future!

Looking for older log entries? Log entries are archived at the end of each month and can be found in our log archives.