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ASDC Newsletter #13



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The BeppoSAX X-Ray Astronomy Satellite (1996-2016):
20 years after the launch

The X-ray astronomy satellite BeppoSAX (Satellite per Astronomia X, "Beppo" in honor of Giuseppe Occhialini), is a project of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) with participation of the Netherlands Agency for Aerospace Programs (NIVR).
eppoSAX was launched on 30 April 1996 and operated succesfully until 2002. The main scientific characteristic of the BeppoSAX mission, the first Italian satellite dedicated to the study of High Energy Astrophysics, was the wide spectral coverage, ranging from 0.1 to over 200 keV. In its six years of operational life BeppoSAX made 30.720 contacts with the Malindi ground station and carried out approximately 1.500 observations of different types of cosmic sources. The most important result of the BeppoSAX Observatory was the discovery of the existence of the X-ray afterglows following Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) explosions. This major discovery earned Enrico Costa and other members of the BeppoSAX team several international recognitions including the "Enrico Fermi Award" 2010, the Descartes Prize of the European Union 2002 (shared among a group of scientists including Filippo Frontera, Luigi Piro and other members of the BeppoSAX team) and the Bruno Rossi Prize from the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society (awarded in 1998 to the BeppoSAX team and Jan van Paradijs)..

The Archives of BeppoSAX data is available at the ASI Science Data Center (ASDC), the multi-mission center itablished in 2000 as an evolution of the BeppoSAX SDC.
For More details on BeppoSAX see:


To commemorate this historic mission, the Italian Space Agency (ASI) organized on May 2, 2016 the event:
"From the launch of Beppo-SAX today: twenty years of Italian successes in Space"   (read more).



An improved version of the ASDC 'Multi-Mission Interactive Archive for Space Science'

The 'Multi-Mission Interactive Archive for Space Science' (MMIA2.0) is a new tool of the ASI Science Data Center to explore its whole data archives. The ASDC has repositories for datasets from several space missions, exploring the Earth atmosphere, the Solar System and the Universe throughout the entire electromagnetic spectrum and other channels, such as cosmic rays. MMIA2.0 is a user-friendly interface that allows users to access this all-encompassing and diverse databases. The tool has four main access tabs corresponding to the scientific topics supported at ASDC:

Astrophysics and Cosmology. It groups all ASDC missions dedicated to the observation of the Universe. They are grouped according to the energy bands where their instruments are sensitive, from Radio to Gamma-rays. Missions are selectable individually, in wavelength groups or in a specific spectral range. Observations of a single source or a sky region around a coordinate pair can be retrieved (the default search radius is different for each selected mission).

Exploration of the Solar System. This section provides links to the MATISSE tool by choosing the mission and the target. Once the user is on the MATISSE homepage the search can be performed by means of geographical (e.g. latitude/longitude) and geometrical (angle of observations) metadata to obtain both single- or multi-observation visualization.

Particle Astrophysics/Cosmic Rays. It gives access to (published) data from two magnetic spectrometers dedicated to charged cosmic rays research in space: PAMELA and AMS-02. Other experiments data will be added in the near future. Measurements of differential energy fluxes, time flux variations and solar flares, as well as fluxes of trapped particles in the Earth magnetosphere; flux ratios are also available in the database. The user can plot the data, download tables and graphs.

Earth's Atmosphere/Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes. This is the newest ASDC tab. It currently gives access to data from Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes detected by the Minicalorimeter (MCAL) instrument on-board the AGILE satellite, and to light curves for the two TGF catalogs so far published by the AGILE Collaboration. Correlations with lightning and other Earth atmospheric parameters, and data from other missions will be included in MMIA2.0 in the near futu

The tool can be accessed from the ASDC main web page at www.asdc.asi or directly at    (read more).



The newest version of the NuSTAR analysis software

A new version (v.1.6.0) of the NuSTAR Data Analysis Software (NuSTARDAS), the official package to process the NuSTAR scientific data developed by the ASDC in collaboration with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), has been distributed as a sub-package in the HEASARC's HEASoft multi-mission software (v.6.19 release). The updated NuSTARDAS data analysis software guide is also available. 

The major changes of NuSTARDAS v.1.6.0 are: 
1) A new software module named 'nusplitsc' to generate separate independent output files from the data held in the Mode 06 event files. The splitting of Mode 06 event files are based on specific spacecraft star tracker combinations, each of which should have reduced blurring and higher fidelity. A visual inspection of sky images is strongly suggested before products extraction from splitted Mode 06 event files. 
2) New algorithms have been implemented in the module 'nucalcsaa' which automatically generates GTIs to exclude regions of the orbit with enhanced background counts in the detector. 
The NuSTARDAS software package is designed to reduce NuSTAR raw data to generate cleaned and calibrated scientific products such as event files, energy spectra, light-curves, sky images, exposure maps, ARFs and RMFs. 

All the NuSTAR public data at ASDC are fully integrated in the ASDC Multi-Mission Interactive Archive (MMIA). Through the MMIA the user can perform on-line analysis of all NuSTAR public observations, without the need to download any software, including the extraction of high-level scientific products (cleaned event files, sky images, energy spectra, light-curves, ARFs and RMFs). 

The Mission
NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) was launched in June 2012 under NASA's Small Explorer program. The primary science objectives are the study of the hottest, densest and most energetic phenomena in the universe, including the physics of massive black holes and collapsed stars, the explosion dynamics and nucleosynthesis in supernovae, and the particle acceleration in relativistic jets in Active Galactic Nuclei. 

The Italian participation to NuSTAR includes a) the provision of the Malindi ground station (ASI), b) the support of the ASI Science Data Center (ASDC), which has developed and maintains the NuSTARDAS data analysis software package and hosts an official mirror of the NuSTAR scientific data archive, and c) a team of scientists of the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) and of Italian Universities to collaborate on the primary scientific mission goals. 

For more details on NuSTAR see:     (read more).



Latest news from the AGILE Data Center

Launched April 23, 2007 in low Earth orbit, AGILE is working nominally after 9 years in orbit, giving crucial contributions to Galactic, extragalactic and Earth atmospheric science. The mission operations are currently funded by ASI at least till 2017.

AGILE, with its large field of view scanning 80% of the sky every 7 minutes in spinning mode, can play a key role in the study of gravitational waves. ASI foresees an enhanced operational mode in the acquisition of AGILE-GRID scientific telemetry data during the second run (O2) of the LIGO-Virgo GW Collaboration to favour the fast discovery of gamma-ray transients associated to compact object coalescences.

The 14th AGILE Science Workshop entitled: “AGILE on the Wave” celebrating the ninth anniversary was held at the ASI Headquarters on 20-21 June, 2016. he program is available The program is available here.
The workshop provided an update of the most recent developments in high-energy astrophysics, gravitational wave astronomy and terrestrial physics connected with AGILE mission.

A series of talks have covered the following topics:

  • State of the AGILE Mission
  • Prospects for Gravitational Wave Research
  • Galactic High-Energy Astrophysics
  • Extragalactic High-Energy Astrophysics
  • Terrestrial Gamma-Ray Flashes and Meteorology
  • Particle Properties in the Inner Magnetosphere
  • Future Gamma-Ray Missions and Experiments        (read more).



The first meeting of the DAMPE European Collaboration

The first Meeting of the DAMPE European Collaboration took place on March 7th and 8th 2016 in the Main Auditorium of the ASI Headquarters in Rome. DAMPE (Dark Matter Particle Explorer) is one of the five satellite missions of the Strategic Pioneer Research Program in Space Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). It was launched on December 2015, at 08:12 Beijing time, into a sun-synchronous orbit, at the altitude of 500 km.

DAMPE is a powerful space telescope for high energy gamma-ray, electron and cosmic rays, equipped with the deepest calorimeter ever used in space. It consists of a double layer of plastic scintillator strips detector (PSD), followed by silicon-tungsten tracker-converter (STK) and then by an imaging calorimeter of about 31 radiation lengths thickness, made up of 14 layers of Bismuth Germanium Oxide (BGO), for a total of 33 radiation lengths. Finally, in order to improve the electron/proton separation power a neutron detector (NUD), of 16.1 cm thick, is placed just below the calorimeter.

DAMPE is measuring electrons and photons with much higher energy resolution and energy reach than achievable with existing space experiments in order to identify possible Dark Matter signatures. It also has great potential for advancing our understanding of the origin and propagation mechanism of high energy cosmic rays, as well as in new discoveries in high energy gamma astronomy. For electrons and photons, the detection energy range is 2 GeV-10 TeV, with a resolution of about 1.5% at 100 GeV. For cosmic rays, the detection range is 100 GeV-100 TeV, with an energy resolution better than 40% at 800 GeV. The geometrical factor is about 0.3 m2 sr for electrons and photons, and about 0.2 m2 sr for cosmic rays. The angular resolution is 0.1° at 100 GeV.   (read more).



The 4th Moon Mapping project Workshop

On May 10 and 11 2016 the 4th workshop dedicated to the Italian-Chinese project known as "Moon Mapping” took place at the ASI headquarters in Rome.
The event started with the joined signature of the Intellectual Property agreement by ASI President R. Battiston and COSE vice-president G. Xie.
More than 30 researchers and students from Italy and China involved in the study of the Moon by means of data acquired by instruments onboard the Chinese Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 missions participated to the meeting.
The main topics of the joint project (i.e., Map of the solar wind ion, Structure map of the Moon, Map of elements distribution and Establishment of 3D digital visualization system) have been actively discussed together with the presentation of external activities related to the exploration of the Moon and of the Solar System in general.
During the visit to Italy, the Chinese delegation also visited the INFN National Laboratories in Frascati and the Thales Alenia Space and ALTEC facilities in Turin.
Detailed information can be found on   (read more).




ASDC involvement in CTA and the latest news from the Consortium

On June 13th, 2016, the  the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) Council selected Bologna as the host site of the CTA Headquarters (HQ) and Berlin-Zeuthen for the Science Data Management Centre (SDMC) from five site candidates. The CTA HQ will be located within the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) premises in a new building shared with the Bologna University Department of Physics and Astronomy.
The ASDC is involved in the activities of the CTA Consortium in collaboration with INAF. The experience acquired in INAF on data from Cherenkov instrumentation (MAGIC) combined with the uniqueness of the ASDC as central crossroads of almost all of the data from high-energy space missions makes this partnership unique in the European research network.
INAF and ASDC researchers collaborate in the definition of the requirements of the CTA data Archive and in the realization of a prototype of the Archive aimed to store the data from the Italian project of the CTA, the ASTRI Project.
ASDC is also involved in the development of tools for cross-correlation of CTA data with data from high-energy missions and ground-based observatories as well as in the development and porting of CTA data reduction and analysis software algorithms on GPUs and ARM low power processors. 
(read more).