20 years have passed since the “death” of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory

On June 4, 2000, a $ 670 million NASA observatory plunged into the Earth’s atmosphere at dizzying speeds, no astronomical accidents or hijackings, just the necessary end of one of the greatest astronomical instruments never put into orbit: the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO).

NASA unveiled plans for the construction of this observatory for the first time in 1977, but budget cuts threatened the cancellation of the instrument every year (reminds us of a telescope of our knowledge, editor’s note). The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, in the end, was launched into orbit on April 5, 1991 and was named after the Nobel Prize in Physics Arthur Holly Compton.

The instrument was positioned in an orbit about 450 kilometers above the earth’s surface to avoid atmospheric resistance and to move away from the Van Allen belts. During the nine years of the mission, very important results were obtained, including the discovery the emission of gamma rays by the nuclei of different galaxies. The telescope also discovered antimatter fountains that flow from the center of the Milky Way, perhaps expelled from our supermassive black hole Sagittarius A *.

The instrument was decommissioned following a failure of the gyroscopes, after many years of productive life. NASA had to cause it to crash in the Pacific Ocean on June 4, 2000, after giving a great deal of satisfaction to the astronomers who used it. The same fate that also happened to the Spitzer space telescope and which Hubble will also suffer.

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