The HEGRA (High Energy Gamma Ray Astronomy) experiment is located at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain), and is a collaboration between the Universidad Complutense de Madrid high energy group, the Max Planck institute for Astrophysics in Munich and several German universities (Hamburg, Wuppertal, Kiel and Heidelberg), as well as other scientific institutions. High energy cosmic radiation research is an important part of the general study of cosmic radiation. After eight decades of intense search, we still don?t know how the mechanisms of origin and acceleration of high energy cosmic radiation work. Obtaining precise data in gamma astronomy could help clarify many of these matters, as well as test the existing models or even suggest new ones. This is the main aim of the HEGRA project.