Abstract The Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS) was the first space telescope capable of high spectral resolution observations of terahertz spectral lines. We have investigated the integration ability of its two receivers and spectrometer during five and a half years of on-orbit operation. The C I, O2, H2O and 13CO spectra taken towards all observed Galactic sources were analyzed. The present results are based on spectra with total integration time up to 2.72 × 104 hours (≃ 108 s). The noise in the spectra is shown to be generally consistent with that expected from the radiometer equation, without any sign of approaching a noise floor. This noise performance reflects the extremely stable performance of the passively cooled front end as well as other relevant components in the SWAS instrument throughout its mission lifetime.

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