The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope

Fermi ASI homepage   (italian)

Fermi NASA homepage

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope ( formerly GLAST) is a powerful space observatory, characterized by huge leap in all key capabilities, working to unveil the mysteries of the high-energy universe that has been discovered to be surprisingly dynamic and diverse.
This space mission studies energetic gamma-rays, observing physical processes far beyond the capabilities of earthbound laboratories, and opening a wide energy window on the universe. Fermi's main instrument, the Large Area Telescope (LAT), operates more like a particle detector than a conventional telescope.
From within its 1.8-meter cube housing, the LAT uses 880000 silicon microstrip detectors to detect high-energy gamma rays with unprecedented resolution and sensitivity, filling in gaps in understanding left by previous missions, and pushing new boundaries in gamma-ray astrophysics, multifrequency astrophysics and astroparticle physics. Fermi space satellite observes the entire sky mainly in survey mode. All the high-energy gamma-ray sky is scanned every 3 hours in a wide energy range (10 keV - 300 GeV) with unprecedented sensibility, performances and all-sky temporal monitoring.
To explore this energy band, Fermi employs two instruments:

Fermi was launched from Kennedy Space Center on June 11, 2008. The observatory checkout phase completed on August 11, 2008 and is now in nominal science operations. Fermi resides in a low-earth circular orbit (550 km altitude), at a 28.5 degree inclination. The mission was designed for a 5-year prime phase, with a goal of 10 years of operations. The NASA Senior Review Committee recommended funding at the desired level of augmentation to provide for full operations through 2014 with an extension through 2016 subject to a second review.


The Fermi LAT scientific collaboration includes presently more than 400 scientists and students at more than 90 universities and laboratories in 12 countries. In order to maximize the scientific return of the Fermi mission and the level of international cooperation is important to study gamma-ray photons from cosmic sources in conjunction to simultaneous data obtained from ground-based and space-borne observatories and instruments operating in other electromagnetic wavebands.
The LAT collaboration has published papers on calibration and analysis methods, gamma-ray source catalogs, pulsars, supermassive black-hole systems and jets, active galactic nuclei, gamma-ray bursts, cosmic-ray electrons, energetic binary star systems and novae, diffuse gamma-ray emission,  molecular clouds, supernova remnants, origin of cosmic rays, sources in globular clusters, solar flares and emission from other solar system bodies, terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, unidentified sources, searches for signals of dark matter and new physics and other scientific subjects.
The Fermi 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 United States.

Mission Objectives:

  • Explore the most extreme environments in the Universe, where nature harnesses energies far beyond anything possible on Earth
  • Search for signs of new laws of physics and what composes the mysterious Dark Matter.
  • Explain how black holes accelerate immense jets of material to nearly light speed.
  • Help crack the mysteries of the stupendously powerful explosions known as gamma-ray bursts.
  • Answer long-standing questions across a broad range of topics, including solar flares, pulsars and the origin of cosmic rays.

ASDC is contributing to the mission by:

  • Establishing and maintaining a mirror data archive of the LAT high level science data.
  • Participating  in development and maintaining of quick-look analysis interfaces at the ISOC-SLAC LAT instrument operation center.
  • Participating in the support and development of the Fermi LAT data analysis software within the LAT collaboration.
  • Participating to scientific investigations and activities of the LAT science groups (mainly AGN, GRB, source catalog science groups).
  • Developing and making available the software for the publication of LAT catalogs and the distribution of high level data products through the web.
  • Participating to the release, analysis, publication, distribution and maintaining of Fermi gamma-ray source catalogs.
  • Providing support and tutorials of instrumental and data reduction methods to the Italian community.
  • Collecting multifrequency archives and data simultaneous to LAT observations (mostly AGN sources).
  • Coordinating and participating to the duty service shifts of Flare Advocate, Burst Advocate and Data Quality Monitor.
  • Developing online tools and interfaces at ASDC for basic and high level visualization, exploration and analysis of Fermi and multifrequency data.
  • Exploring, exploiting and analyzing the collected Fermi LAT data, also in connection to the other multifrequency data and multi-mission tools provided by the ASDC.
  • Building and setting international science and technical collaborations in the frame of the Fermi mission, participating to conferences communicating science results and tools/services offered by the ASDC center, participating to public outreach activities for the mission, the center and Institutions, organizing science seminars, conferences and other material/events.

Fermi mission awarded with Bruno Rossi prize in 2011:

"The 2011 Rossi Prize is awarded to Bill Atwood, Peter Michelson, and the Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope LAT Team for enabling, through the development of the Large Area Telescope (LAT), new insights into neutron stars, supernova remnants, cosmic rays, binary systems, active galactic nuclei, and gamma-ray bursts."


LAT Collaboration: The Fermi LAT collaboration is supported in both the development and the operation of the LAT as well as scientific data analysis by a number of agencies and institutes. These include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Energy (DoE) in the United States, the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique / Institut National de Physique Nucléaire et de Physique des Particules in France, the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI) and the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Italy, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in Japan, and the K.A. Wallenberg Foundation, the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish National Space Board in Sweden. Additional support for science analysis during the operations phase is gratefully acknowledged from the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) in Italy and the Centre National d' 'Etudes Spatiales in France. Italy participated to the instrumental part thanks to expertise of INFN supplying 16 (+2 spare) towers that constitute the LAT tracker, and is participating thanks to the services, tools and analyses of the ASI ASDC like a centre of storage, distribution, quicklook online analysis and exploitation of the data of the mission. In exchange for these contributions Italy is obtaining a copy of the Fermi science data archive.

Fermi Satellite Artist Rendering

aitoff all sky

Fermi page summary

Fermi News:
(Feb 06, 2017) Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope identified the farthest gamma-ray blazars.
(June 14, 2016) Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope's 8th Birthday
(Apr 29, 2016) A novel image of the Moon, based on data collected by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope's Large Area Telescope (LAT) instrument during its first seven years of operation (2008-2015)
(Nov 20, 2015) Multiwavelength evidence for quasi-periodic modulation in the gamma-ray blazar PG 1553+113
(Jan 21, 2014) Fermi-LAT Detection of Delayed Gamma-ray Flares from Gravitational Lens B0218+357
(Jun 13, 2013) Happy Fifth Birthday to Fermi. Five spectacular years in orbit!
(Apr 30, 2013) GRB 130427A: high energy gamma-ray detection by AGILE and Fermi
(Mar 05, 2013) Significant increase in the gamma-ray emission from the Crab Nebula region reported by Fermi and AGILE satellites