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This Week in Astronomy History: April 5-11

Photo: A view of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, taken from the aft flight deck window of space shuttle Atlantis | NASA

April 5, 1991: Compton Gamma Ray Observatory deployed

The groundbreaking Compton Gamma Ray Observatory was launched from the Space Shuttle¬†Atlantis¬†on April 5, 1991. The observatory was the first of its kind, capable of covering an unprecedented six orders of the electromagnetic spectrum. To do this, the craft carried four main telescopes that covered X-rays and gamma rays, as well as various specialized sub-instruments and detectors. The observatory stayed in Earth’s orbit from 1991 to 2001, when it fell out of Earth’s orbit and its mission was officially ended.