The BATSE experiment was built in-house at MSFC in the mid-1980's and delivered to TRW, Redondo Beach in November, 1988 for integration and testing on the CGRO spacecraft. The mission was launched by the space shuttle Atlantis in April, 1991 and was in operation until June 2000.
The BATSE Mission Operations and Data Analysis group in Huntsville has become one of the largest and most productive research groups in high-energy astrophysics in the world. This is a direct result of the high quality of data received from GRO and its continued value to the astrophysical community. Since the demise of CGRO the BATSE Data team continues its data analysis in order to provide a complete public archive of BATSE data.
The BATSE Team consists of approximately 45 persons from NASA-MSFC, the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and the Universities Space Research Association (USRA). The group is composed of scientists, programmers, data technicians, operations personnel and students. In addition to their own research efforts, a major activity of the group is to supply BATSE data to over sixty other research groups in the U.S., Europe and Russia so that additional scientific analysis can be performed. Many of these research efforts are performed in collaboration with scientists in Huntsville.
The BATSE experiment on CGRO studied some of the most energetic objects in the Universe, including gamma-ray bursts. These mysterious bursts are seen to occur at random in the sky about once per day. As a result of BATSE observations, most scientists now believe that these bursts originate from the most distant parts of the observable Universe. Prior to BATSE, prevailing theories assumed that the bursts were from objects within our galaxy, the Milky Way. BATSE is providing the most comprehensive and sensitive observations of gamma-ray bursts since their accidental discovery by nuclear bomb detection satellites over 25 years ago.
Other discoveries that BATSE has made since launch involve black hole, neutron star systems, and pulsars within the Galaxy. These extremely dense remnants of stellar explosions are associated with physical processes and conditions that cannot be observed on Earth. These objects produce highly variable radiation mostly in the x-ray and gamma-ray wavelengths. BATSE's sensitive, all-sky, continuous monitoring capability is unprecedented in astronomy and is extremely valuable for the study of these objects. New objects have been discovered and new features of previously known objects have been found. Closer to home, powerful gamma-ray flashes high above thunderstorms have been discovered with BATSE.
Education and public outreach were important elements of the BATSE program. Many graduate students at The University of Alabama in Huntsville and collaborating institutions provided key elements of the research. BATSE staff scientists have given lectures on the latest findings at all levels - from international scientific symposia to elementary school and civic organizations. Public outreach materials have been generated which include press releases, popular-level science publications, Web pages and inputs to the preparation of GRO brochures. The complete BATSE data archive will be available for public access on the Web at the Compton Science Support Center.
You can read more about the construction and launch of BATSE and the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory in a Picture Tour.
gzipped PostScript© images of The Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory and a single BATSE module are available - great for use in oral presentations or written documents! Warning: these are detailed images; the uncompressed files are approximately 1.8Mb each. Respective previews are below.
Author: Robert S. Mallozzi
Responsible Manager: Steve Elrod
Site Curator: Valerie Connaughton