On June 11, 2008 – three years ago today – NASA launched the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope into orbit:
Fermi – as it was renamed once it reached orbit, after the great Italian scientist Enrico Fermi – is designed to observe gamma rays, the highest energy flavor of light. Gamma rays are only emitted from the most violent events in the universe: black holes gobbling down matter, exploding stars, antimatter particles annihilating each other, and so on. Fermi surveys the sky day after day, returning gobs of data to waiting scientists.
I was involved with Fermi when it was still called GLAST. Long before launch, I signed on to do education and public outreach for GLAST at Sonoma State University. Along with our team, I wrote web pages and helped create educational activities – including classroom lessons, a card game, a paper model of GLAST, a planetarium show, a PBS NOVA episode… we even built a small observatory near the University to augment GLAST observations! You can find all this on the SSU Fermi website.
Fermi has been a very successful mission, and I’m proud to have done my small part for it. And I guess I’m still doing it; technically, writing this blog post is EPO. So happy birthday, Fermi! You’ll always be GLAST in my heart.