Volume: 06, Issue: 06 06/18/2008 
The GLAST spacecraft and Delta II rocket leap off the launch pad. Photo credit: Carleton Bailie for United Launch Alliance.
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The GLAST spacecraft and Delta II rocket leap off the launch pad. Photo credit: Carleton Bailie for United Launch Alliance.
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On Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the Delta II rocket displays the NASA logo and the mission emblem for the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope. Photo credit: NASA/Troy Cryder.
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Other Articles in This Issue:
A Trio of Super-Earths
Phoenix Makes First Trench in Science Preserve
Discovery’s Mission a Success
Introducing the Spacesuit of the Future
 

GLAST in Orbit!

NASA's Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, or GLAST, successfully launched aboard a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 11.

The GLAST observatory separated from the second stage of the Delta II and the flight computer immediately began powering up the components necessary to control the satellite. Twelve minutes after separating from the launch vehicle, both GLAST solar arrays were deployed. The arrays immediately began producing the power necessary to maintain the satellite and instruments. The operations team continues to monitor the spacecraft subsystems.

"The entire GLAST Team is elated the observatory is now on-orbit and all systems continue to operate as planned," said GLAST program manager Kevin Grady of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

After a 75-minute flight, the GLAST spacecraft was deployed into low Earth orbit. It will begin to transmit initial instrument data after about three weeks. The telescope will explore the most extreme environments in the universe, searching for evidence of new laws of physics and investigating what composes mysterious dark matter. It will seek explanations for how black holes accelerate immense jets of material to nearly light speed, and look for clues to crack the mysteries behind powerful explosions known as gamma-ray bursts.

"After a 60-day checkout and initial calibration period, we'll begin science operations," said Steve Ritz, GLAST project scientist at Goddard. "GLAST soon will be telling scientists about many new objects to study, and this information will be available on the internet for the world to see."

Mr. Ritz also spoke about the exciting science that GLAST will reveal. He said that the GLAST LAT will survey the Universe over an energy range from 20 million electron volts to over 300 billion electron volts, the upper end of which is a relatively unexplored area of the electromagnetic spectrum. “GLAST enables scientists to look under the hood and see how the universe works,” Ritz said.

Kevin Grady, GLAST Program Manager, explained how the Large Area Telescope, or LAT, doesn’t have a lens like a regular telescope. In fact, it converts gamma rays to electrons and positrons to interpret the direction from which the gamma-ray came.

“It took a lot of people in many countries to make this 16-year journey come to fruition,” said Michelson. NASA partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy, and many institutions and agencies in the U.S, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Sweden.

For more information about the GLAST mission, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/GLAST/main/index.html.

    
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