NASA’s new space telescope launches aboard a Delta 2 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 12:05 p.m. on 11 June 2008. A selection of images from the launch include a curious Grackle who spent some time nearby before liftoff. The inset image at right taken through intervening thin clouds shows the diverging trails of the solid rocket boosters after separation.

About the space telescope from a NASA press release:

GLAST: Exploring the Extreme Universe
NASA's Gamma-Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) is a powerful space observatory that will open a wide window on the universe. Gamma rays are the highest-energy form of light, and the gamma-ray sky is spectacularly different from the one we perceive with our own eyes. With a huge leap in all key capabilities, GLAST data will enable scientists to answer persistent questions across a broad range of topics, including supermassive black-hole systems, pulsars, the origin of cosmic rays, and searches for signals of new physics.

The mission is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership, developed by NASA in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, along with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and the U.S.

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