The Vela 5B nuclear test detection satellite was part of a program run jointly by the Advanced Research Projects of the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S.Atomic Energy Commission, managed by the U.S. Air Force. It was placed in a nearly circular orbit at a geocentric distance of ~118,000 km on 23 May 1969; the orbital period was ~112 hours. The satellite rotated about its spin axis with a ~64-sec period. The X-ray detector was located ~90 degrees from the spin axis, and so covered the celestial sphere twice per satellite orbit. Data were telemetered in 1-sec count accumulations. Vela 5B operated until 19 June 1979, although telemetry tracking was poor after mid-1976.
The scintillation X-ray detector (XC) aboard Vela 5B consisted of two 1-mm-thick NaI(Tl) crystals mounted on photomultiplier tubes and covered by a 5-mil-thick beryllium window. Electronic thresholds provided two energy channels, 3-12 keV and 6-12 keV. In front of each crystal was a slat collimator providing a FWHM aperture of ~6.1x6.1 degrees. The effective detector area was ~26 sq-cm. Sensitivity to celestial sources was severely limited by the intrinsic detector background of ~36 cts/sec. The Vela 5B X-ray detector yielded ~40 cts/sec for the Crab, so 1 Vela ct/sec ~25 UFU~4.5E-10 ergs/sq-cm/sec in the 3-12 keV response band.
The time history of the Crab detected flux decreased by ~15% between 1969 and 1979. It is believed that this decrease is due to a gain change in the XC detector as it aged. No attempt to correct for this trend has been made in the data processing. Users who desire to do so, or who want to express detected source intensities in units of crabs, will have to access the FITS file containing the Crab data to extract the necessary information.
The 1-second data are corrected to barycentric time. Results are known to be good to 1 part in 1000. No attempt was made to correct for the timing error introduced by the deterioration of the satellite orbit over the ten years of operation. The count rate of each 1-second observation was corrected for collimator response before being put into a bin.
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