NASA renames observatory for Fermi

Aug. 27, 2008 at 7:41 AM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. space agency says it has renamed its newest spacecraft -- the Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope, or GLAST -- in honor of Enrico Fermi.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said GLAST has been officially renamed the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope in honor of the pioneer in high-energy physics who lived 1901-54.

The Fermi spacecraft -- launched June 11 -- has begun its mission of exploring the universe in high-energy gamma rays, with the spacecraft and its revolutionary instruments passing their orbital checkout "with flying colors," NASA said.

"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. "His theory provides the foundation for understanding the new phenomena his namesake telescope will discover."

NASA scientists said they expect Fermi will discover many new pulsars, 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.

The Fermi space telescope is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership with scientists in France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Sweden.

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