Update 19 June 2008
Yesterday was another great day for GLAST. After several days of successful maneuvering tests (see previous blog entry), it was time to activate the antenna that will very soon be used for science data transmission. A gimbal points the antenna to one of several satellites in the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS). Engineers working in the Mission Operations Center had previously checked out the gimbal, solving a few minor glitches along the way. The transmitter was activated yesterday, and the performance of the communication link was even better than expected! After some initial tests, the link was used to dump data from the onboard solid state recorder (SSR), which temporarily stores the data pending transmission to the ground. The data transmission contacts typically last about 15 minutes, and 5-10 contacts per day are planned during routine operations.
The observatory is now smoothly executing the standard sky survey observing pattern while performing test data transmissions — which means GLAST is almost ready to start turning on its instruments next week, after just a few more preparatory steps. Then the work to calibrate and tune the instruments for the on-orbit environment can begin, a process that will take many weeks of hard — but rewarding — work. Stay tuned!
News from Italy
The following is from Prof. Ronaldo Bellazzini, who is the INFN Italian team coordinator:
There has been great interest in Italy in these weeks for the GLAST launch. GLAST has been on the national or local media media almost every day! Our sponsor agencies (INFN, ASI, and INAF) are programming a further set of events related to the forthcoming milestones (LAT activitation, first light results, first skymap…). Please visit this link for information on the launch-related public outreach activities in Italy.
The launch was the culmination of many years of hard work by many people coming from different scientific and technical cultures. In Italy, as elsewhere, GLAST has been the result of a strong partnership between the particle physics and high-energy astrophysics communities. We have united our efforts to share important science goals and technical expertise. All members of the INFN team (from the Trieste, Udine, Padova, Pisa, Perugia, Roma2 and Bari INFN sections) are anxious for LAT activation and for first-light results from the instrument we have proudly contributed to building and testing.
We are sure that GLAST is starting its journey toward extraordinary discoveries that will help change our understanding of the Universe.
News from the LAT Instrument Science Operations Center (ISOC)
The following is from Dr. Eduardo do Couto e Silva, a Deputy Manager of the ISOC at SLAC and a LAT Team member:
We are just a few days away from turning on the LAT! The team will be ready and waiting for the data, working in close coordination with our colleagues at the Mission Operations Center at Goddard Space Flight Center. We are organizing about 100 of our collaborators around the world, who will be involved in LAT operations and who will take shifts at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in California, so that the LAT and its data can be monitored continuously. Data will flow through the ISOC, for processing, and made available to the rest of the LAT team. The LAT Collaboration distributed worldwide will work with those at SLAC to inspect the quality of the data and to ensure we have a calibrated telescope whose performance is optmized for the best scientific return. This is a huge effort, and we are ready for the challenges ahead. We can’t wait to see the gamma-ray sky through GLAST “eyes” and to share with the world what we find in the months and years ahead.
In future posts, we will have contributions from other GLAST team members from around the world. Please check back every few days for status updates and more news from GLAST.