The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) was a space observatory that studied gamma rays, the most energetic form of electromagnetic radiation. It was launched into space on April 5, 1991, and operated until its deorbit on June 4, 2000. CGRO was a collaboration between NASA and several international partners, and it was the second space telescope in NASA’s Great Observatories program.
The History of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory
The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) was proposed in the late 1970s as part of NASA’s Great Observatory program, which studied the universe across the electromagnetic spectrum using four space-based telescopes. After a decade of development and construction, CGRO was launched into space on April 5, 1991, aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis. CGRO was named after Arthur Compton, former chancellor of Washington University, who received the Nobel Prize for work involved with gamma-ray physics.
Who Built the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory?
CGRO was built by TRW Inc., in Redondo Beach, California, starting in 1983. In 2002, TRW was acquired by Northrop Grumman, who built many of the spacecrafts that followed.
Who Contributed to the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory?
Numerous agencies and universities contributed to NASA’s development of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, including the European Space Agency (ESA) and U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Various institutions also made meaningful contributions to the telescope’s design and instruments, including the Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Stanford University, the Max Planck Institute, and the University of New Hampshire.
When Was the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory Launched?
The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) was launched at 9:22 AM EST on April 5, 1991.
Where Was the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory Launched?
The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) was launched from the Kennedy Space Center. CGRO was launched into orbit by the Space Shuttle Atlantis on its six-day mission, called STS-37.
What Instruments did the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory Use?
CGRO had four main instruments on board, which studied gamma rays across a wide range of energy levels. This allowed scientists to study a variety of astronomical phenomena, including active galactic nuclei, gamma-ray bursts, and solar flares. These instruments include:
- The Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BATSE) detected and located gamma-ray bursts from 20 to 600 keV.
- The Oriented Scintillation Spectrometer Experiment (OSSE) studied the spectra of gamma-ray sources in the energy range of observed 0.05 to 10 MeV
- The Imaging Compton Telescope (COMPTEL) imaged the full sky, mapping out gamma-ray sources in the energy range of 0.75 to 30 MeV.
- The Energetic Gamma Ray Experiment Telescope (EGRET) measured high-energy gamma rays from 20 keV to 30 GeV, typically found in quasars, neutron stars, and black holes.
What Has the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory Discovered?
The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) made numerous discoveries, furthering our understanding of gamma rays, as well as the universe. These discoveries include:
- The discovery of a new class of galaxies powered by supermassive black holes
- The imaging of the first full-sky survey at energy levels above 100 MeV
- The discovery of almost 200 unknown gamma-ray sources
- The detection of gamma rays from stars, black holes, and thunderstorms
How Did the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory Impact History?
The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) impacted history through its influential discoveries and comprehensive analysis of gamma rays, which provided a foundational understanding of high-energy radiation in our universe. These contributions paved the way for many future missions, including the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope.
Why was the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory Deorbited?
The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) was decommissioned after one of its three gyroscopes failed in November 2019. While it was still functional, losing another gyroscope would have made deorbiting dangerous. To avoid this, it was deorbited on June 4, 2000, after 9 years and 4 months of operations.
How was the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory Deorbited?
The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) was propelled out of orbit, and into the atmosphere on June 4, 2000. While most of it burned up in re-entry, pieces were recovered in the Pacific Ocean, southeast of Hawaii.