NASA is launching a state-of-the art gamma ray telescope, called GLAST, which will allow researchers to watch first hand some of the most powerful events at work in the universe today.
The telescope is not a typical telescope in several ways. First of all, it can't see light like the Hubble or Spitzer can; it can only see gamma rays. Gamma rays are the most energized photons in the universe. Secondly, it is the first telescope ever to observe the entire sky at once.
I bet NASA is concerned and curious about this gamma ray burst phenomenon. If a gamma ray burst occurred anywhere near earth it would completely obliterate the atmosphere, allowing pure radiation through our ozone and magnetic "shield" that deflect the radiation.
Gamma ray blasts are so powerful that if one occurred 1000 light years away, it would appear as bright as the sun. Thankfully, they have been observed only at great distances.
There is speculation that gamma ray bursts are responsible for one or more extinction level events.