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SLAC's LAT Instrument Science Operations Center Prepares for the GLAST Launch
Anyone walking by the LAT (Large Area Telescope) Instrument Science Operations Center (ISOC) Mission Support Room at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), Menlo Park, Calif., last week may have deduced that the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) launched prematurely.

As part of their preparations for GLAST's May 16th launch, LAT collaborators rehearsed data-taking shifts with simulated data. To the occasional passerby, data-laden conversations, marked by the utmost seriousness and, at times, frenzied enthusiasm, appeared real.

The data were not real, but the commitment was. Attendance, at around 70 participants, for this operations simulation was twice that of even the most optimistic predictions. And that was only the number of people who actually traveled to SLAC. Other collaborators, from both the U.S. and Europe, participated in the simulation remotely, rehearsing the readiness to support the 24-hours-per-day science to come from GLAST.

ISOC meeting Image Left: Researchers assembled in the ISOC Mission Support Room for simulated data-taking sessions last week. Credit: SLAC

"People are taking everything we're doing together very seriously," said Eduardo de Couto e Silva, who coordinated sessions. "There is this feeling that we're about to launch and we have to be ready."

Readying procedures and equipment for the telescope's launch were the main goals. But the bottom line for the sessions was readying people and securing a 2008 shift roster. Crews will work around the clock during GLAST's first 60 days of orbit, so familiarizing researchers with the ISOC's facilities was a priority.

SLAC's role as host continues during the week of March 10, as the first LAT Collaboration Meeting for 2008 began March 11. The meeting's purpose is to give scientists from nine major science groups within the LAT Collaboration the opportunity to build upon preparations for publishing papers throughout the course of GLAST's mission.

Matt Cunningham