'Swift' action on ray bursts

October 29, 1999

British astronomers have won approval to build and launch a spacecraft to study mysterious, violent bursts of gamma rays. Last week Nasa selected the spacecraft, called Swift, as one of its key space science missions for the next millennium. It is due for launch in 2003, writes Alison Goddard.

Gamma ray bursts are the most violent events in the universe. The explosions are so vast that they outshine the whole of the rest of the universe. They happen roughly once a day at random points on the sky and can last from a fraction of a second to minutes. Scientists do not know how they are generated; Swift's data will help provide answers.

The Swift spacecraft will be built by researchers at the University of Leicester and the Mullard Space Laboratory, part of University College London, along with scientists from the Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington DC and Pennsylvania State University.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns