The Last Hubble Repair Mission

I was lucky enough to work on the first (as one small member of a very large team) in 1993. That first repair mission focused on adding “corrective lenses” to HST to account for the fact that it’s primary mirror was figured perfectly – to the wrong figure.  From Space.com:

Word today is that the Space Shuttle Atlantis could lift off in August with a crew of seven astronauts and cargo of equipment, tools and new instruments for Hubble. But that launch date could change. “That’s dependent upon the shuttle flights between now and the servicing mission,” said NASA’s Alan Stern, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. He added that safety always comes first.

This mission will concentrate on replacing two of the science instruments (one of which, the STIS, was cryogenically cooled until the coolant ran out).

During the 11-day Hubble service mission, which will include five spacewalks, shuttle astronauts will install two new science instruments plus a set of gyroscopes to help stabilize the telescope, as well as batteries and thermal blankets to keep the observatory operating until at least 2013.

I’m interested in the fact that they’re replacing the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 3 (WFPC-3, pronounced wif-pic). The WFPC-2, affectionately known as the “Wide Field Publicity Camera, for it’s wonderful pictures, was itself replaced by the ACS. The second new instrument, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS), is an excellent tool for collecting data about the large scale structure of – well – everything, and about the way galactic formation is affected by dark matter. Very cool stuff.

Much more here!

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