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Future of Compton Gamma Ray Observatory News Briefing March 24

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Thursday, March 23, 2000

Dolores Beasley
Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1753)

Nancy Neal
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
(Phone: 301/286-0039)

NOTE TO EDITORS: N00-11

For the past nine years NASA's Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) has explored a violent but invisible and little-known world of gamma-ray bursts, antimatter fountains, and particle jets streaming millions of miles per hour away from black holes.

Compton, a workhorse for nine years, exceeded NASA's expectations for a two- to five- year mission. However, in December 1999 one of its three gyroscopes failed, leaving CGRO with two working gyroscopes. Currently, the spacecraft is continuing its science program with the two remaining gyroscopes.

After extensive study to consider all options -- which include directing the satellite back to Earth via a controlled- entry operation or extending its mission by controlling the spacecraft without the use of its gyroscopes -- NASA officials have made a decision regarding Compton's future.

The decision will be announced at a news conference at 1 p.m. EST Friday, March 24, at the James E. Webb Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, 300 E St., SW, Washington, DC.

Briefing participants will include:

* Dr. Edward Weiler, Associate Administrator for Space Science, NASA Headquarters
* Alphonso V. Diaz, Director, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
* Martin E. Frederick; Associate Chief, Guidance, Navigation, and Control Center; Goddard
* Dr. Neil Gehrels, project scientist, Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, Goddard

The event will be carried live on NASA Television with two- way question-and-answer capability for reporters covering the briefing from participating NASA centers. NASA television is broadcast on satellite GE-2, transponder 9C, at 85 degrees West longitude, vertical polarization, frequency 3880 MHz, audio of 6.8 MHz.

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