"Swift," a new NASA satellite, will head for the heavens Nov. 17, designed to detect gamma-ray bursts and whip around to catch them in the act. And the trigger software that makes the flying observatory smart enough to do this comes from the Space Science team at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Gamma-ray bursts, first discovered by Los Alamos in the course of nuclear nonproliferation data analysis, occur randomly throughout the universe. They are the most powerful explosions known to mankind, exceeded only by the Big Bang. Swifts Burst Alert Telescope will detect and locate about two bursts a week and relay their positions to the ground in less than 15 seconds.
By studying the bursts, scientists have the opportunity to illuminate some of the earliest mysteries of the universe. "We believe Swift is capable of observing gamma-ray bursts right back through time to the very first stars that ever formed after the Big Bang," said lead Los Alamos project scientist Ed Fenimore, a Laboratory Fellow.
Nancy Ambrosiano | EurekAlert!
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