THE FIRST IMAGES from the European Space Agency's (ESA) Infra-red Space Observatory (ISO), launched on 17 November, have been received successfully from the spacecraft's four sensitive instruments.

The first infra-red image of the M51 spiral galaxy, also known as the Whirlpool Galaxy, show the spiral structure and other details never before seen in an image of this wavelength, demonstrating the increased sensitivity of the ISO instruments compared with previous infra-red space telescopes. The next target was scheduled to be the star Gamma Draconis.

Following the successful detection of first infra-red light in the instruments, a detailed calibration and performance verification of the ISO and its instruments is being conducted and a presentation of early scientific results from the satellite will be revealed at the end of January 1996, says ESA.

Source: Flight International