NASA'S GLAST satellite gets unwrapped for the holidays

December 19, 2007

Everyone likes getting high-tech presents for Christmas and Hanukkah, and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington received a wonderful present this year - NASA's Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST).

GLAST arrived at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) soon after Thanksgiving on November 28 in a large container. It was shipped by a tractor trailer truck that transported it from General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Gilbert, Ariz.

Almost like children who can't wait to open their presents, the GLAST mission engineers and scientists opened the protective container that GLAST was shipped in, and are preparing the satellite for testing before Christmas. They'll be testing GLAST to make sure it can endure the extreme temperatures and vacuum of space.

"The best presents will come once GLAST is launched later in 2008," said GLAST project scientist Steve Ritz of NASA Goddard. Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. "GLAST will bring gifts from afar, such as identifying some currently unknown sources of gamma rays, the most energetic light from the extreme environments in the universe."

GLAST will carry two instruments, the Large Area Telescope (LAT) and the GLAST Burst Monitor (GBM), to study the extreme universe, where nature harnesses energies far beyond anything scientists can achieve in their most elaborate experiments on Earth.

"We've anticipated this day for a long time and it's taken a huge international team effort to get to open this wonderful gift this year," said Charles "Chip" Meegan, GLAST Burst Monitor Principal Investigator of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "This is an important milestone, but what will really make us all look like kids on Christmas morning, is when we see the first data from GLAST in orbit," said Peter Michelson, LAT Principal Investigator, Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.

"Many people around the world can't wait to unwrap the gifts of data that GLAST will send us once it's in orbit," said Rick Harnden, GLAST Program Scientist, NASA Headquarters, Washington. "The GLAST discoveries will help us better understand what makes up the Universe and provide answers to questions about solar flares, pulsars, and the origin of cosmic rays. GLAST's findings will be a great present for all of us."
-end-
NASA's GLAST mission is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, along with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and the U.S.

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

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