Gamma Rays and UFOs

With the Space Shuttle Discovery now being torn apart, and the two remaining shuttles facing only a single, final flight each, these shuttle-related space history items are becoming quite bittersweet. Even so …

Twenty years ago today — April 5, 1991 — the Space Shuttle Atlantis launched from Kennedy Space Center with a new observatory to place in orbit.

(The Gamma Ray Observatory, held by the shuttle’s Remote Manipulator System. NASA image.)

The STS-37 crew — Steven R. Nagel. Kenneth D. Cameron, Linda M. Godwin, Jerry L. Ross, and Jerome “Jay” Apt — launched the Gamma Ray Observatory on the third day of their mission. The launch was not picture perfect, however: the “high-gain antenna failed to deploy on command; it was finally freed and manually deployed by Ross and Apt during an unscheduled contingency spacewalk.”

Astronauts fixing things … sounds like a reason to continue with a human spaceflight program ….

The new space telescope was later renamed the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory in honor of Nobel laureate Dr. Arthur Holly Compton, a pioneer in high-energy physics. The observatory remained in orbit until June 2000.

As for UFOs: like many shuttle missions, the camera on STS-37 picked up an image of an object that appears to be in the vicinity of the shuttle. You can watch the 27-second video here and draw your own conclusion.

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