Main Theme High Energy Astrophysics
Mission Responsibility NASA
Launch Date 11 June 2008
End of Mission June 2013 (nominal)
Current phase E2
The GLAST mission is part of the NASA programme on the Structure and Evolution of the Universe study and the fundamental physics research programme without accelerators of the DoE (USA). The mission is also supported by physics and astrophysics programmes in many partner countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Sweden.
The GLAST observatory is made up of two instruments, the Large Area Telescope (LAT) and the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) that will map the cosmos in an energy range of about 10 keV up to a hundredth of GeV; values of such high energy have never been reached thus far. The LAT is an instrument of American responsibility (PI Peter Michelson, Stanford University), with the participation of Italy, France, Sweden and Japan.
ASI's Board of Directors approved on 29 September 2004 with deliberation n. 25/2004, the global financial envelope for the GLAST mission. It delegated the signature of the necessary documents to the President for allowing normal and correct involvement in the activities that come under ASI's auspices.
GLAST's scientific objectives can be summarized in the following points:
- Understanding of the acceleration mechanism of particles in AGN, the Pulsars and the SNR, fundamental for solving the mystery of the formation of the jets and dynamics of shocks in the remains of the Supernova.
- Mapping of the celestial sphere in the gamma radiation component: non-identified sources and diffuse interstellar emissions of the Milky Way
- Determination of the high-energy behaviour of the GRB and other transient phenomena. Variability is the main characteristic of the gamma celestial sphere.
- Studies on the nature of dark matter. research on the possible decay of exotic particles in the primordial Universe and the processes of annihilation of WIMPS in the halo of the Milky Way.
- An important contribution, INFN's responsibility, is the planning and building of the LAT's tracker (also funded by ASI),
- the management, distribution and data analysis of the mission through the ASI-ASDC centre and its use by the Italian community (also coordinated by INAF) which is traditionally among the most active in high energy astrophysics. In particular, Italy will be the only nation in the world to have a gamma observatory in orbit. Thanks to the AGILE mission, which has been fully operational for around 9 months, the Italian community is accumulating results and experience that will ensure us a favoured position in the utilization of data from the GLAST mission.
Within the framework of the GLAST programme, an agreement has been signed between ASI-INFN, finalized on 22/12/2004 by INFN, a Letter of Agreement ASI-NASA, signed on 11 November 2004, a Technical Assistance Agreement in July 2006 and an International Funding Working Agreement signed by 9 funding agencies in July 2006. On 9 March 2007 a Memorandum of Understanding was also signed.