The task of Integral, ESA's International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory, will be to gather the most energetic radiation that comes from space. The spacecraft is scheduled for launch in October 2002 and will help to solve some of the biggest mysteries in astronomy.
Gamma rays are even more powerful than the X-rays used in medical examinations. Fortunately, the Earth's atmosphere acts as a shield to protect us from this dangerous cosmic radiation. However this means that gamma rays from space can only be detected by satellites. Integral will be the most sensitive gamma-ray observatory ever launched. It will detect radiation from the most violent events far away and from processes that made the Universe habitable.