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11 October 2004 The GALEX mission and detectors
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We describe the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) satellite that was launched in April 2003 specifically to accomplish far ultraviolet (FUV) and near ultraviolet (NUV) imaging and spectroscopic sky-surveys. GALEX is currently providing new and significant information on how galaxies form and evolve over a period that encompasses 80% of the history of the Universe. This is being accomplished by the precise measurement of the UV brightness of galaxies which is a direct measurement of their rate of star formation. We briefly describe the design of the GALEX mission followed by an overview of the instrumentation that comprises the science payload. We then focus on a description of the development of the UV sealed tube micro-channel plate detectors and provide data that describe their on-orbit performance. Finally, we provide a short overview of some of the science highlights obtained with GALEX.
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