2002 - MSSL delivers UVOT for NASA's Swift Mission
May 30th, a state-of-the-art space telescope designed and built at UCL's
Mullard Space Science Laboratory,
will be taken on a special United States Air Force flight from RAF Mildenhall
to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
in Maryland, Washington, DC.
UVOT (Ultra-Violet / Optical Telescope), this will be one of three telescopes
on a special NASA orbiting space observatory which is planned for launch
on a Delta II rocket next year. The observatory, called "Swift", has been
specially designed to find gamma-ray bursts.
the most explosive events in the Universe but as yet, very little is known
about when and why they occur. The most distant burst has been seen in a
galaxy about 12 billion light-years away; this explosion went off when the
Universe was very young.
believe that gamma-ray bursts come from the explosions of massive stars,
called hypernovae, leaving behind a black hole. Or they may occur when two
exotic, very dense stars, called neutron stars, collide. One thing we do
know is that if a gamma-ray burst went off in our Galaxy, it would cause
mass extinction on the Earth in a matter of seconds, without warning.
observatory will look into the most distant reaches of the Universe and should
find about three bursts a week. Scientists will use this information to find
out how, where and when these cataclysmic events will occur - unlocking secrets
of the history and the structure of the Universe - and telling us whether
we should worry!