The High Energy Transient Explorer (HETE-2)

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The High Energy Transient Explorer  is a small scientific satellite designed to detect and localize gamma-ray bursts.  The coordinates of GRBs detected by HETE are distributed to interested ground-based observers within seconds of burst detection, thereby allowing detailed observations of the initial phases of GRBs.

The HETE program is an international collaboration led by the Center for Space Research at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology. Our collaborating institutions include the Institute for Chemistry and Physics (RIKEN), the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the Centre d'Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements (CESR), the University of Chicago, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, Santa Cruz, the Centre Nationale d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the Ecole Nationale Superieure de l'Aeronautique et de l'Espace (Sup'Aero), the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).

See the Mission Operations and Status Page for regular updates.

Click here for information about the precise pointing direction of the HETE satellite.

(Last update: Mar 28, 2007)

HETE Pointing Information Available

Don't forget that the HETE web page provides an estimate of the current pointing of the HETE spacecraft. See the mission status page for more details; the data themselves are immediately available on this page.

The HETE Satellite!

Click here to learn more about HETE's scientific objectives!
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HETE Science

The primary goals of the HETE mission are the multiwavelength observation of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and the prompt distribution of precise GRB coordinates to the astronomical community for immediate follow-up observations.  To achieve these goals, the HETE science payload consists of one gamma-ray and two X-ray detectors, which, together, are sensitive to photons in the energy range of 1 keV to ~500 keV.  The two X-ray detectors are coded-aperture imagers, allowing HETE to determine the location of a GRB to a precision of 10 arc-minutes (typical) to as low as 10 arc-seconds.  Sophisticated on-board processing software allows the location to be calculated on board in real time, and ground post-burst analyses will provide refined localizations

In addition to the study of GRBs, the HETE instruments will conduct a survey of the X-ray sky.  Not only will HETE be able to detect X-ray sources as faint as a few milliCrab in a day's observations, but it will be sensitive to any flares from X-ray sources in the sky.

Click here to learn more about the HETE satellite
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The HETE Satellite

HETE's science instrument complement consists of
  • a set of wide-field gamma-ray detectors
    (E=8-500 keV)
  • a wide-field, medium-energy X-ray imaging system
    (E=2-25 keV)
  • a wide-field, low-energy X-ray imaging system
    (E=1-10 keV)
  • a set of optical imaging cameras

The HETE scientific instruments cover a solid angle of 1.5-2 steradians.

Click here to learn about HETE status and operations!
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HETE Operations and Status

On orbit, the HETE spacecraft will always point in the anti-solar direction for optimal exposure of the solar panels to the Sun. As a result, the HETE science instruments monitor a ~2 steradian field centered roughly on the ecliptic: during the course of a year, HETE will survey a swatch of sky along the ecliptic which covers about 60% of the celestial sphere.

Because of the anti-solar orientation of HETE, ground observers will always know approximately where HETE is observing. In addition, all bursts detected by HETE will be at least 120 degrees from the Sun and, therefore, in prime position for observations by ground-based optical observers.

The scientific instruments operate during orbit twilight and night, when the Earth is not blocking their view.

Click here for more information about HETE burst alerts!
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HETE Burst Alerts

When a GRB is detected by HETE, a summary of the collected burst data is sent to a series of listen-only ground stations distributed around the equator.  These data are forwarded to MIT, where they are distributed to ground observers via the GRB Coordinates Network (GCN).  Subscribers to GCN or visitors to the GCN web site can receive notification of HETE GRB coordinates within seconds of burst onset!

Click to see a movie of the orbit of HETE over the burst alert stations:

Last update: Wed Mar 28 17:43:10 GMT 2007


mit Copyright © Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Comments and questions to Roland Vanderspek or Joel Villasenor