Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
NASA Launches Swift, To Track Gamma Rays
NASA launched Saturday its Swift satellite, which will track huge explosions of gamma rays, the US space agency said. The Delta rocket launcher lifted of from Cape Canaveral at 12:16 pm, according to NASA, which televised the launch live.
It was slated to enter Earth orbit one hour and 20 minutes later at an altitude of 600 kilometers (370 miles).
Swift is a 250 million dollars mission, with British and Italian participation.
Scientists hope it will provide insights into black holes.
Gamma rays would be lethal to us on Earth were it not for our atmospheric shield. They emanate from astonishingly powerful phenomena, such as supernovae - massive stars that, when all their fuel has expired, perish in a violent explosion, spewing out material that later becomes the stuff of new stars and planets.
Another gamma-ray source is mighty bursts from deep space that have only recently been detected and have unleashed fierce debate among astrophysicists.
Some think these blasts could be generated by colliding neutron stars - tiny, astonishingly dense stars, born in the rubble of a supernova, whose gravitational force compresses the equivalent matter of our Sun into a radius of only 20 kilometers (12 miles). A teaspoonful of matter from a neutron star would weigh millions of tonnes on Earth.
Neutron stars themselves can collapse if their mass becomes too great, and then form black holes - the mighty maws of space that suck up everything, even light, and are only detectable thanks to the radiation they spray across the Universe.
In 1991, NASA put in orbit the massive, 16-ton Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, which determined that the powerful cosmic blasts originated above all outside our own galaxy.
On October 17, the European Space Agency launched its own gamma-ray telescope - the International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (Integral), from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
All rights reserved. © 2004 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express
Short Gamma-Ray Bursts: New Models Shed Light On Enigmatic Explosions
Garching, Germany (SPX) Sep 07, 2004
Researchers at the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics have developed new relativistic models which allow predictions of so far unknown properties of short gamma-ray bursts. Their simulations will come under scrutiny by the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Explorer, a NASA mission that is scheduled for launch in the fall of 2004.
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|