Happy Little Known Satellite Birthday!

Happy Birthday to the High Energy Astronomy Observatories (HEAO 1) satellite , launched August 12, 1977


Alas, the HEAO 1 only operated until 9 January 1979.


HEAO 1 was primarily a survey mission, dedicated to systematically mapping the X-ray sky every 6 months.

HEAO-1 All-Sky X-ray Catalog: Beginning in 1977, NASA launched a series of very large scientific payloads called High Energy Astronomy Observatories(HEAO). The first of these missions, HEAO-1, carried NRL’s Large Area Sky Survey Experiment (LASS), consisting of 7 detectors. It surveyed the X-ray sky almost three times over the 0.2 keV - 10 MeV energy band and provided nearly constant monitoring of X-ray sources near the ecliptic poles.

HEAO 1 performed almost 3 full celestial surveys and discovered 1500 new X-ray sources in the 0.2 keV – 10 MeV range of the electromagnetic spectrum.  At the time, this was the greatest and most accurate X-ray detector.

HEAO 1 (formerly known as HEAO A) and the two other HEAO spacecraft, actually provided the beginnings for craft like Hubble and Spitzer.  Each one of the craft added to our collective understanding of X-ray and gamma radiation and its potential in helping understand the universe.


Although all told the three spacecraft only orbited from the first launch in 1977 to the final splashdown in 1982, they did fundamentally change how we understood this area of space exploration.

Of course, those craft that followed built upon the shoulders of those that went first.  So here’s to you HEAO spacecraft, your contribution is not forgotten.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +