The GAMMA Ray Sky as Seen by Fermi: Opening a New Window on the High Energy Space Environment
NAVAL RESEARCH LAB WASHINGTON DC SPACE SCIENCE DIV
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The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, NASAs newest observatory, has begun its mission of exploring the high-energy space environment in gamma rays. Successfully launched from Florida on June 11, 2008, the spacecraft and its instruments passed their orbital checkout and commissioning with flying colors. Fermis primary instrument, the Large Area Telescope LAT, is now surveying the gamma-ray sky at energies from tens of millions to hundreds of billions of times greater than those we see with our eyes. With its unprecedented sensitivity and sky-survey viewing, the LAT is revolutionizing our understanding of the near-Earth environment and distant universe in energetic gamma rays, the most penetrating type of electromagnetic radiation. NRL scientists designed and built the LAT calorimeter, which measures the energies of the gamma rays, and led the commissioning of the LAT on orbit. NRL also provided facilities and technical support for the environmental testing of the instrument and observatory.