GLAST telescope ready to mount

By Phil Plait | September 21, 2006 9:54 pm

Cool high-energy astronomy news: the Large Area Telescope (or LAT), the main instrument for the Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) is ready to be mounted on the spacecraft. GLAST is a joint NASA/Department of Energy mission due to launch next year, and will observe super-high-energy explosions and other titanically energetic events like galaxy collisions and black holes gobbling down matter. I work on the education and public outreach for GLAST, so I’m happy. If it works, I’m funded for a few more years.

Here’s what the LAT looks like as it sits in a clean area (to prevent dust and other contaminants) at the Naval Research Lab just outside Washington, DC:

The picture is fuzzy due to the clear plastic curtains separating the LAT from the dirty outside air. I always think those clean rooms look like restaurant walk-in coolers.

One funny thing: in the press release, Steve Ritz, the project scientist (read: big science cheese) for GLAST said this:

The Large Area Telescope is a unique and beautiful new instrument for science…

I hope he didn’t mean that literally– here’s an image of the LAT from a few months back:

Cool? Yes. "Beautiful"? Bzzzzt. ūüôā

Still, it’ll do amazing stuff, giving us pictures and spectra of incredible events that, until even a few years ago, were totally unknown to us.

And don’t forget to add GLAST to your MySpace page!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, NASA, Science
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