The gamma ray sky as seen by Fermi LAT is shown in galactic coordinates.  The bright horizontal line is the diffuse emission from cosmic rays interacting with the gas and dust in the galactic plane.
The gamma ray sky as seen by Fermi LAT is shown in galactic coordinates. The bright horizontal line is the diffuse emission from cosmic rays interacting with the gas and dust in the galactic plane.

Objective
Advance the understanding of the high energy space environment and explore the most extreme environments in the universe, where nature accelerates particles to energies far beyond those achievable on Earth. Through its observations of gamma radiation and cosmic rays, Fermi is addressing long-standing questions in a range of topics, including solar flares, pulsars, gamma ray bursts, black holes and jet formation, the composition of dark matter, and the origin of cosmic rays.

Approach
Large Area Telescope (LAT) Instrument:

  • An international collaboration supported by NASA and DOE in the US developed the primary instrument, LAT, for Fermi. The PI institutions are Stanford and SLAC
  • NRL designed, built, and tested the Calorimeter system for LAT and performed the environmental testing on the instrument prior to delivery to the spacecraft contractor

Fermi Mission:

  • NASA launched Fermi into a low Earth orbit in June 2008
  • Fermi observes near orbit zenith in such a manner that it views the entire sky every three hours; this coverage permits rapid response to transient phenomena and correlated observations with narrow field-of-view observatories in other energy bands
  • The combination of large field of view and large collecting area makes Fermi ~30 times more sensitive than previous missions

Deliverable/Value/Accomplishment

  • NRL delivered 16 LAT Calorimeter detector systems to NASA. This included NRL in-house conception, coordination of international contributions, and in-house assembly and test. NRL also provided last-minute (several weeks long) environmental testing of the Fermi spacecraft, enabling it to achieve an on-time launch from KSC
  • NRL is currently delivering mission operations and calibration support to NASA as well as scientific analyses and interpretations of collected data with particular emphasis on pulsars, black holes, active galaxies, gamma ray bursts and solar flares
  • Fermi results have produced a catalog of over 1800 new gamma ray sources from the first two years of operation. This includes over 100 new gamma ray pulsars, among nature’s most stable clocks. Potential future applications for space navigation and timing