February 11, 2008
NASA announced Thursday that members of the general public from around the world will have a chance to suggest a new name for the cutting edge Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, otherwise known as GLAST, observatory before it launches in mid-2008. The satellite will observe some of the most powerful forces known in the universe.
"The idea is to give people a chance to come up with a name that will fully engage the public in the GLAST mission," says Steve Ritz, the mission's project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
The mission's scientific objectives are to: Explore the most extreme environments in the universe, where nature harnesses energies far beyond anything possible on Earth. Search for signs of new laws of physics and what composes the mysterious dark matter. Explain how black holes accelerate immense jets of material to nearly light speed. Help crack the mysteries of the stupendously powerful explosions known as gamma-ray bursts. Answer long-standing questions about a broad range of phenomena, including solar flares, pulsars and the origin of cosmic rays.
"We're looking for name suggestions that will capture the excitement of GLAST's mission and call attention to gamma-ray and high-energy astronomy. We are looking for something memorable to commemorate this spectacular new astronomy mission," says Alan Stern, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "We hope someone will come up with a name that is catchy, easy to say and will help make the satellite and its mission a topic of dinner table and classroom discussion."
Suggestions for the mission's new name can be an acronym, but it is not a requirement. Any suggestions for naming the telescope after a scientist may only include names of deceased scientists whose names are not already used for other NASA missions. All suggestions will be considered. The period for accepting names closes on March 31, 2008. Participants must include a statement of 25 words or less about why their suggestion would be a strong name for the mission. Multiple suggestions are encouraged.
Anyone who drops a name into the "Name That Satellite!" suggestion box on the web page can choose to receive a "Certificate of Participation" via return e-mail. Participants also may choose to receive the NASA press release announcing the new mission name. The announcement is expected approximately 60 days after launch of the telescope.
to submit a suggestion for the mission name.