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Astronomy

GLAST renamed for Fermi; first images released

NASA's newest observatory, the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope, or GLAST, has begun its mission of exploring the universe in high-energy gamma rays. The spacecraft and its revolutionary instruments passed their orbital checkout with flying colors.

NASA announced on August 26 that GLAST has been renamed the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The new name honors Prof. Enrico Fermi (1901 - 1954), a pioneer in high-energy physics.

"Enrico Fermi was the first person to suggest how cosmic particles could be accelerated to high speeds," said Paul Hertz, chief scientist for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "His theory provides the foundation for understanding the new phenomena his namesake telescope will discover." Scientists expect Fermi will discover many new pulsars in our own galaxy, reveal powerful processes near supermassive black holes at the cores of thousands of active galaxies and enable a search for signs of new physical laws.

Full press release from NASA.