Feeds

NASA preps GLAST for blast-off

Gamma-ray 'scope good to go

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

NASA is making final preparations for tomorrow's lift-off of the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) atop a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

View of Glast inside one half of its payload fairing. Pic: NASALaunch of the "powerful space observatory" (seen here inside one half of its payload fairing) is slated for between 15:45 and 17:40 GMT. It will "open a wide window on the universe", according to the agency, which summarises: "With a huge leap in all key capabilities, GLAST data will enable scientists to answer persistent questions across a broad range of topics, including supermassive black-hole systems, pulsars, the origin of cosmic rays, and searches for signals of new physics."

Specifically, GLAST's mission priorities are: "To understand the mechanisms of particle acceleration in active galactic nuclei (AGNs), neutron stars, and supernova remnants (SNRs); to resolve the gamma-ray sky: characterize unidentified sources and diffuse emission; to determine the high-energy behavior of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and variable sources; and to probe dark matter and the early Universe."

GLAST differs from NASA's Swift, launched in 2004, in that while the latter "can rapidly and precisely determine the locations of GRBs and observe their afterglows at X-ray, ultraviolet, and optical wavelengths, the former will deliver "exquisite observations of the burst over the gamma-ray spectrum, giving scientists their first complete view of the total energy released in these extraordinary events".

Once launched, GLAST will reside in a low-Earth circular orbit at a nominal 565km altitude and an inclination of around 24.7 degrees. It'll circle the Earth every 90 minutes, allowing it to map the entire sky roughly every three hours.

To do this, GLAST carries three instruments: Anticoincidence Detector ("A system on a gamma-ray observatory that triggers when it detects an incoming charged particle (cosmic ray) so that the telescope will not mistake it for a gamma ray"); Calorimeter ("A detector that absorbs particles and photons, producing an electrical signal proportional to the total incident energy [which] can be used to measure a gamma ray’s energy"); and GLAST Burst Monitor (GBM) ("The instrument on GLAST that is specifically designed to detect gamma-ray bursts").

GLAST has a mission life of five years, with NASA hoping for 10 years' results from the 'scope. There's an overview of the mission here (pdf), FAQ here and the main GLAST site here. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?