July 2, 2004  




Persis Drell Joins LAT as Project Goes Full Steam Ahead

By Davide Castelvecchi

On June 21, Research Director Persis Drell took the role of Deputy Project Manager for the Large Area Telescope (LAT), the main instrument of the Gamma-ray Large Area Telescope, or GLAST, due to go into orbit in 2007.

Persis Drell discusses the LAT Test Bed with Gregg Thayer (REG). (Photo by Joni White)

Drell will help steer the LAT project as it goes into full throttle, and the Lab gets ready for the arrival in early September of some instrument components from Italy’s INFN, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington, D.C.

“The GLAST/LAT project is an incredibly exciting scientific opportunity for the field and for the Laboratory,” Drell said. “It is at an important point in its development, as we anticipate the delivery of flight hardware this summer and the beginning of the integration and test phase of the project.”

Technicians will assemble each of the LAT’s 16 tower modules from a silicon strip tracker (designed by UC Santa Cruz and Japanese physicists and assembled by INFN) and a cesium iodide calorimeter (provided by the NRL in collaboration with Swedish and French physicists) (see TIP, June 18, 2004). The tower modules will be installed in a four-by-four array inside a grid machined out of a single block of aluminum. The LAT will be completed with on-board electronics designed at SLAC and an Anti-Coincidence Detector provided by NASA-Goddard.

After several phases of building and testing, in July 2005 the completed instrument will be shipped to the NRL for flight certification, and later to Arizona, where Spectrum Astro Inc. will assemble it into the GLAST spacecraft.

As Deputy Project Manager, Drell will oversee three of the project’s subsystems—the Tracker (managed by Robert Johnson), the Instrument Science Operations Center (Robert Cameron), and the Science Analysis Software (Richard Dubois).

“We’re getting to the final steps of building the real instrument,” says LAT Project Manager Lowell Klaisner, “and getting every bolt right is particularly difficult with a space project. It is great to have someone such as Persis who is so bright and thorough—and so enthusiastic. Her excitement is contagious.”

Working at the GLAST headquarters in Building 28 will be Drell’s primary day-to-day focus, but she will also continue to participate in the strategic planning of research as SLAC’s Research Director. Meanwhile, Steve Williams and Charlotte Chang (both RD) will take care of the everyday operation of the Research Division. “I know that I can count on the superb staff in the division to help Steve, Charlotte and me as we rearrange our responsibilities,” Drell says.



The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Wednesday June 30, 2004 by Emily Ball