The GLAST (Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope), which endured multiple delays
before launch, will help scientists measure energy in gamma rays and will take
high-resolution images. NASA also expects GLAST to help study dark
matter, a phenomenon that scientists believe makes up 25 percent of mass in
Earth's universe. In addition, it will search for thousands of gamma-ray
sources found in numerous galaxies.
"GLAST will give us a spectacular high-energy gamma-ray vision," said
David Thompson, GLAST deputy project scientist. "The universe looks
remarkably different outside the narrow range of colors in the spectrum that we
can see with our eyes."
The U.S. Department of Energy, with assistance from researchers in the U.S.,
Japan, Sweden, Italy, Germany and France contributed to the project.
"After a 60-day checkout and initial calibration period, we'll begin
science operations," said a GLAST project scientist. "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."
The $690 million telescope was originally scheduled to launch on May 16, but
was delayed more than once while engineers finished constructing the telescope
and eradicated issues with the Delta II rocket.
GLAST will orbit 350 miles above the Earth's surface, at 25.6 degrees to the
equator. Engineers expect the satellite to be functional for at least 10