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Telescope Launched to Scout Out Gamma Rays

from the San Diego Union-Tribune (Registration Required)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Associated Press) - NASA launched a telescope Wednesday to scout out elusive, super high-energy gamma rays lurking in the universe. Glast - a NASA acronym standing for Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope - began its five- to 10-year Earth-orbiting mission with a midday blastoff aboard a Delta rocket.

The $690 million telescope, supported by six countries, will pick up where NASA's Compton Gamma Ray Observatory left off before its deliberate destruction in 2000, but in a bigger and better way.

With superior new technology and insight gained from Compton and other telescopes, Glast will be able to do in three hours, or two orbits of Earth - survey the entire sky - what Compton took 15 months to do. What's more, Glast and its particle detectors are much more sensitive and precise, and should provide an unprecedented view into the high-energy universe from a 345-mile-high orbit.

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