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The Ariel V Satellite

artist concept of Ariel V
Credit: NASA

Ariel V was launched into a low inclination (2.8 degrees) orbit from the San Marco launch platform in the Indian Ocean on 15 October 1974. The mission was a British-USA collaboration. The Science Research Council managed the project for the UK and GSFC/NASA for the USA. Ariel V was dedicated to monitoring the X-ray sky with a comprehensive payload. The mission ended in the spring of 1980.

Mission Characteristics

* Lifetime: 15 October 1974 - 14 March 1980
* Energy Range: 0.3-40 keV
* Payload:
  • Experiments aligned with the spin axis.
    • Rotation Modulation Collimator (RMC) (0.3-30 keV).
    • High resolution proportional counter spectrometer.
    • Polarimeter/spectrometer.
    • Scintillation telescope.
  • All-Sky Monitor (ASM) a small (~1 cm2) pinhole camera (3-6 keV).
  • Sky Survey Instrument (SSI) composite of two proportional counters with 290 cm2 effective area each (1.5-20 keV).
* Science Highlights:
  • Long-term monitoring of numerous X-ray sources.
  • Discovery of several long period (minutes) X-ray pulsars.
  • Discovery of several bright X-ray transients probably containing a Black Hole (e.g. A0620-00=Nova Mon 1975).
  • Establishing that Seyfert I galaxies (AGN) are a class of X-ray emitters.
  • Discovery of iron line emission in extragalactic sources.
* Archive: Lightcurves from the ASM. Raw data and the 3rd Ariel V catalog from the SSI.

[About Ariel V] ( [Archive] ( [Gallery] ( [Publications] (

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