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New space images from Hubble
Astronomers on Wednesday unveiled new pictures and observations from the Hubble Space Telescope. With the exception of a picture last month of the bruise on Jupiter caused by a comet, they were the first data obtained with the telescope since a crew spent 13 days in orbit last May replacing, refurbishing and rebuilding its vital components.  The telescope was now in the best shape of its 19-year life in orbit, far surpassing the ambitions of its founders, and that it could last for at least another five years. Click here for Hubble images. 

FULL STORY New York Times_9/9/09

Hubble leader says NASA 'abandons' repair capability

NASA's triumphant mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope this week has cracked open a policy rift within the space agency, with a top NASA scientist saying that the United States is on the way to losing the capability to do what it has just done so dramatically. David Leckrone, the senior project scientist for the Hubble, said NASA's new strategy for the post-space-shuttle era does not include servicing scientific instruments in space, and he fears that vast amounts of accumulated knowledge and technical expertise will quickly vanish. "It just makes me want to cry to think that this is the end of it," Leckrone said at a news conference earlier this week. "There is no person out there, there is no leadership out there, there is no vision out there to pick up the baton that we're about to hand off and carry it forward." This policy dispute reflects deeper questions over what, exactly, is the purpose of human spaceflight.   Full Story   Washington Post/Mercury-News_ 5/22/09

Astronauts say goodbye to Hubble after repair mission

Atlantis' astronauts gingerly dropped the Hubble Space Telescope overboard Tuesday, sending the restored observatory off on a new voyage of discovery and bidding it farewell on behalf of the planet. Hubble -- considered better than new following five days of repairs and upgrades -- will never be seen up close by humans again. This was NASA's last service call. During five consecutive days of spacewalks loaded with drama, Atlantis' crew labored tirelessly on the 19-year-old observatory. Four men working in teams of two gave the telescope two new high-powered science instruments and a suite of other up-to-date equipment, and fixed two broken instruments, something never before attempted in orbit. NASA said the astronauts' extraordinary effort not only fixed Hubble, but should give the iconic telescope another five to 10 years and allow it to reveal even more mysteries of the cosmos.   Full Story   AP/Baltimore Sun_ 5/19/09

Astronauts begin Hubble telescope repairs

The first of five ambitious space walks to repair the Hubble Space Telescope is underway, and, while it's been tough slogging, astronauts aboard the space shuttle have accomplished the first of their goals. The astronauts struggled for two hours to remove a balky bolt holding in place an instrument, the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, that needed to be replaced. Finally the camera slowly slid out of the telescope like a drawer coming out of a dresser. The camera, which took many of the Hubble's most famous images, will be brought back to Earth and sent to the Smithsonian.   Full Story   Washington Post_ 5/14/09

Space shuttle Atlantis launches final mission to Hubble

After a smooth countdown and picture-perfect liftoff, space shuttle Atlantis and a crew of seven astronauts are in space, ready to begin their 11-day mission to service NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Atlantis lifted off Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:01 p.m. EDT on May 11th.

Atlantis' 11-day mission will include five spacewalks to refurbish Hubble with state-of-the-art science instruments designed to improve the telescope's discovery capabilities by up to 70 times while extending its lifetime through at least 2014.

Shortly before liftoff, Commander Scott Altman thanked the teams that helped make the launch possible. "At last our launch has come along," said Altman. "...Getting to this point has been challenging, but the whole team, everyone, has pulled together to take us into space."

Altman is joined on STS-125 by Pilot Gregory C. Johnson and Mission Specialists Megan McArthur, John Grunsfeld, Mike Massimino, Andrew Feustel and Michael Good. McArthur will serve as the flight engineer and lead for robotic arm operations while the remaining mission specialists pair up for the hands-on spacewalk work after Hubble is captured and secured in the payload bay. Altman, Grunsfeld and Massimino are space shuttle and Hubble mission veterans. Johnson, Feustel and Good are first-time space fliers.

The STS-125 mission is the 126th shuttle flight, the 30th for Atlantis and the second of five planned in 2009. Hubble was delivered to space on April 24, 1990, on the STS-31 mission. STS-125 is referred to as Servicing Mission 4, although it is technically the fifth servicing flight to the telescope.

"Hubble has a long history of providing outstanding science and beautiful pictures," said Ed Weiler, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "If the servicing mission is successful, it will give us a telescope that will continue to astound both scientists and the public for many years to come."

Among Hubble's greatest discoveries is the age of the universe (13.7 billion years); the finding that virtually all major galaxies have black holes at their center; the discovery that the process of planetary formation is relatively common; the first ever organic molecule in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star; and evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating -- caused by an unknown force that makes up approximately 72 percent of the matter-energy content of the universe.   Full Story   NASA News Release_ 5/11/09

Shuttle Atlantis set for Hubble launch Monday

The shuttle Atlantis' countdown is proceeding smoothly toward launch Monday on an $887 million mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. The primary goals of NASA's fifth and final mission to service and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope are to install two new instruments--the Wide Field Camera 3 and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph--six fresh batteries, six stabilizing gyroscopes, a replacement science data computer, a refurbished fine guidance sensor, and new insulation panels. The astronauts also will attempt to repair two other instruments, the Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph.   Full Story   CNET_ 5/10/09

Hubble photographs giant eye in space

The Hubble Space Telescope's legendary Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 has produced one of its last images, a gorgeous shot of a planetary nebula. The nebula, a colorful cloud of gas and dust named Kohoutek 4-55 (or K 4-55), has an eye that appears to be looking right back at Hubble. The image was taken May 4 and released today. Monday, NASA aims to send the space shuttle Atlantis to Hubble, where astronauts will replace the camera with the Wide Field Camera 3, among other upgrades and fix-it projects. At a press conference today, space agency officials said the camera will make one last image tomorrow, of a nearby galaxy named IC 5152, but that image won't be released immediately.   Full Story   Space.com_ 5/10/09

Last voyage for the keeper of the Hubble

On May 12, Dr. John Grunsfeld and six other astronauts commanded by Scott Altman are scheduled to ride to the Hubble Space Telescope's rescue one last time aboard the shuttle Atlantis. This will be the fifth and last time astronauts visit Hubble. When the telescope’s batteries and gyros finally run out of juice sometime in the middle of the next decade, NASA plans to send a rocket and drop it into the ocean.  FULL STORY_ New York Times 4/16/09

Hubble at risk from collision of satellites

The already hobbled Hubble Space Telescope could be further harmed by space debris from Wednesday's unprecedented satellite collision, a chief NASA scientist told ABC News. Hubble is orbiting 75 miles below where the collision took place. "Clearly debris from the event is going through the altitude that the Hubble flies, so we're going to be looking at what is the new risk to Hubble," said Nicholas Johnson, chief scientist at the Orbital Debris Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center. No one knows yet why the Iridium communications satellite and an old Russian Cosmos satellite ended up on a collision course. Although NASA is concerned about all spacecraft in the region, the Hubble is of particular concern because the last shuttle mission to repair the telescope is scheduled for this spring.    Full Story    ABC News_ 2/13/09


Hubble, Keck, Gemini take first photos of planets orbiting stars

Reaching a milestone in the search for Earth-like planets in the universe, two teams of astronomers say they have parted the curtains of space to take the first pictures of planets beyond our solar system. The first team, led by UC Berkeley researchers, used the Hubble Space Telescope to take a picture of a giant planet orbiting the star Fomalhaut, 25 light-years away. The other effort relied on the giant Keck and Gemini telescopes in Hawaii to take images of three planets surrounding the young star HR8799, 130 light-years -- about 800 trillion miles -- away. Both discoveries were released Thursday by the journal Science and presented at a news conference at NASA headquarters in Washington.   Full Story    Los Angeles Times_ 11/14/08

NASA gives details of Hubble tune-up plans to keep it operating at least until 2013

The orbiting space telescope that just won't quit collecting gobs of celestial data well beyond its expected twilight is set for a major tune-up and upgrade, NASA scientists announced today in Austin, Texas at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. This servicing mission will be the Hubble Space Telescope's fifth and last. 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 depending on other shuttle schedules and safety issues. Orbiting at about 350 miles (563 kilometers) above Earth, Hubble is above the atmosphere and doesn't have to contend with shifting pockets of air that distort images made by ground-based telescopes. Hubble's clear view has meant, for one, that over its 16-plus years in orbit, the telescope has sent back a spectacular photo album of sci-fi-like jets from black holes, galaxies in all stages of evolution and snapshots of planets in our own solar system. The public's love for Hubble, along with political pressure, has played a role in NASA's decision to service the observatory, a mission deemed risky compared to other shuttle ventures.  Full Story  Space.com_ 1/8/07

Primary camera on Hubble Space Telescope shuts down, likely to be only marginally restored - NASA

While other scientific work can still be done by the aging observatory, the unit that failed, the Advanced Camera for Surveys, is the one most scientists depend upon. NASA scientists say they expect to be able to restore just one-third of its observation ability, probably by mid-February. NASA plans to have space shuttle astronauts repair and upgrade the 16-year-old telescope on a mission next year. New instruments that will be installed will exceed the capabilities of the current system. The Hubble's main camera shut down over the weekend, the third outage in less than a year for the instrument. An initial investigation determined its backup power supply had failed, NASA said. Installed during a March 2002 servicing mission, the Advanced Camera for Surveys increased Hubble's vision and has provided the clearest pictures yet of galaxy formation in the very early universe. The instrument consists of three electronic cameras, filters and dispersers that detect light from the ultraviolet to the near infrared.   Full Story   AP/International Herald Tribune_ 1/29/07

Nobel physicist John Mathers focuses on Hubble's heir, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope

Mathers' still accepting accolades for his work with the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite, or COBE, which helped with interpreting the rippled fingerprint left behind by cosmic creation. And he's the senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. The $3.5 billion observatory is scheduled to launch in 2013. The Webb telescope is designed to look farther into the cosmic past than Hubble, using a suite of cameras optimized for infrared wavelengths.  Full Story MSNBC_ 1/8/07


Hubble telescope makes new discovery

The Hubble Space Telescope has shown that a mysterious form of energy first conceived by Albert Einstein, then rejected by the famous physicist as his "greatest blunder," appears to have been fueling the expansion of the universe for most of its history.  This so-called "dark energy" has been pushing the universe outward for at least 9 billion years, astronomers said Thursday.  "This is the first time we have significant, discrete data from back then," said Adam Riess, a professor of astronomy at Johns Hopkins University and researcher at NASA's Space Telescope Science Institute.  He and several colleagues used the Hubble to observe 23 supernovae _ exploding white dwarf stars _ so distant that their light took more than half the history of the universe to reach the orbiting telescope. That means the supernovae existed when the universe was less than half its current age of approximately 13.7 billion years.  Because the physics of supernova explosions is extremely well-known, it is possible for the astronomers to gauge not just their distance, but how fast the universe was expanding at the time they went off.  "This finding continues to validate the use of these supernovae as cosmic probes," Riess said.  FULL STORY_Washington Post 11/16/06

NASA vision for Hubble extended
NASA plans a potentially risky shuttle mission to extend the life of the Hubble space telescope to at least 2013.  NASA administrator Michael Griffin, speaking to cheering scientists who had feared Hubble's demise, said a shuttle would make one final maintenance trip, tentatively in 2008, to the orbiting telescope.  The $US900 million ($A1.16 billion) trip will go ahead even though the shuttle astronauts will be unable to take shelter on the international space station if something goes wrong, Dr Griffin said at the Goddard Space Flight Centre near Washington.  Hubble is used by thousands of scientists and is considered by some to be the most important astronomical instrument.  FULL STORY_Herald Sun 11/1/06

NASA to undertake potentially risky mission to extend life of the Hubble Space Telescope to at least 2013

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, speaking to cheering scientists who had feared Hubble's earlier demise, said a space shuttle would make one final maintenance trip, tentatively in 2008, to the orbiting telescope. The $900 million trip will go ahead even though the shuttle astronauts will be unable to take shelter on the International Space Station if something goes wrong, Griffin said at the Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington. Hubble is used by thousands of scientists around the globe and is considered by some to be the most important astronomical instrument ever. Scientists say that without repairs the 16-year-old orbital observatory would function for only two or three more years. The upgrades should keep the telescope working until its successor, the James Webb Telescope, is functional in 2013. The maintenance mission will install new instruments that will allow scientists to look deeper into space and farther back in time to learn more about how the universe was created. Worn-out batteries and faulty gyroscopes will also be replaced.  Full Story  Reuters_ 10/31/06

Decision imminent on fate of Hubble

The future of the Hubble Space Telescope hangs in the balance as top NASA managers weigh the feasibility and risks of sending shuttle astronauts on a fifth and final servicing mission to the observatory. Michael Griffin, the agency administrator, is scheduled to announce Tuesday at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, whether he'll order the mission. If Griffin says "go," the mission could launch as early as 2008, providing 7,000 astronomers worldwide with five more years of access to the famous telescope - along with better instruments to explore the depths of the universe and its evolution. But a Hubble mission would also be the only flight before the shuttle's retirement in 2010 that could not reach the International Space Station in case of emergency. That scenario has worried NASA since 2003, when the shuttle Columbia was damaged by debris on liftoff and burned up during re-entry. All seven crew members perished.  Full Story  Baltimore Sun_ 10/27/06 (logon required)

Hubble's main camera back on; Glitch blamed on debris

Debris stuck in a switch is believed to have caused a voltage drop that shut down the Hubble Space Telescope's main camera for the second time this year, the operators of the orbiting observatory announced Friday. Power was restored to one of three detectors on the Advanced Camera for Surveys after an electrical relay suspected as the cause of the shutdown was toggled on and off. Observations will resume next week if its performance remains stable. The Baltimore-based institute coordinates use of the orbiting telescope, launched in 1990 by the space shuttle, which has revolutionized astronomy with some of the most striking images ever seen in space. NASA has scheduled a meeting Oct. 27 on the safety of a shuttle mission to service the Hubble to keep it working until a replacement is launched in 2011.  Full Story AP/MSNBC_ 10/13/06

Hubble pinpoints changes in Jupiter's Little Red Spot

Just a little more than a year ago, the small spot on Jupiter was a pale white; now it matches the reddish hue of its bigger sibling, the Great Red Spot, and boasts 400 mph winds, according to new data from the Hubble Space Telescope. Both spots are actually fierce storms in Jupiter's atmosphere. While the red spot - three times the size of Earth - is more noticeable, strange things are happening to the smaller spot, nicknamed the Little Red Spot or Red Spot Jr. but officially called "Oval BA." It probably gained strength as it shrunk slightly, the same way spinning ice skaters go faster when they move their arms closer, said NASA planetary scientist Amy Simon-Miller.  Full Story AP/St. Petersburg Times_ 10/12/06

'Bulge' yields new planet class: Many of the planets are the size of Jupiter
Astronomers have discovered a new class of planets that take less than a day to whiz round their parent stars.  Observations with the Hubble Space Telescope revealed the existence of the planets, which orbit closer to their stars than any previously known.  Dr Kailash Sahu and colleagues report finding the planets in a faint, crowded star field in a region of the Milky Way known as the galactic bulge.  The team has published its findings in the scientific journal Nature.  It uncovered the existence of 16 planets in the category of close orbiters, taking between 0.4 and 3.2 days to go around their respective stars.  Many of the planets are the size of Jupiter, the largest planet in our Solar System. Two of the 16 have orbits of less than a day, creating a new category of "ultra-short" orbit exoplanets. FULL STORY_BBC NEWS 10/4/06

Main camera on aging Hubble shuts down

The main camera on the Hubble Space Telescope shut down unexpectedly for the second time this year, the operators of the orbiting observatory announced Friday. The Space Telescope Science Institute, which coordinates use of the telescope, said the camera shut down Saturday. Program managers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt blamed the shutdown on a voltage drop to the device and were investigating the cause and what action to take. The Advanced Camera for Surveys, installed by a space shuttle crew in March 2002, increased Hubble's vision 10 times and has given the clearest pictures yet of galaxies forming in the very early universe. The instrument consists of three electronic cameras, filters and dispersers that detect light from the ultraviolet to the near infrared.  Full Story  AP/RedOrbit_ 9/30/06

Shuttle's safe return spurs optimism for NASA and Hubble

NASA's efforts to put the International Space Station program back on track took a major step forward yesterday with the safe return of the shuttle Discovery after a near-flawless 13-day mission. Astronauts accomplished every objective during their visit to the $100 billion space station, including the deliveries of a new resident and 3 tons of equipment and supplies. The flight's larger significance, however, might be that it positions the space agency to begin a final push of 15 more missions needed to finish the station before the planned retirement of the shuttles in 2010. "This is as good a mission as we've ever flown, but we're not going to get overconfident," said NASA Administrator Michael Griffin. "We've got 16 flights to go to assemble the space station and, hopefully, do a Hubble [Space Telescope] repair."  Full Story Baltimore Sun_ 7/18/06

Good news for Hubble: NASA's space shuttle program is back

Discovery's successful mission all but slams the door on the problem-plagued Columbia period. NASA's top managers won't take a bow until Discovery is safely on the ground Monday, but day-to-day officials are clearly pleased. Experts say Discovery's performance allows the shuttle program to return to its old job before Columbia shattered in pieces on its return in 2003, killing seven astronauts. NASA's mission is to finish building the international space station with a flurry of 15 more shuttle flights. And it has made the chance of a 16th flight, to fix and upgrade the aging Hubble Space Telescope, far more likely, NASA officials have said. Full Story AP/San Diego Union-Tribune_ 7/11/06

Hubble's future rides on shuttle

A successful trip opens the door for astronauts to make critical repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope as early as October. Since Discovery delivered the $1.5 billion telescope to orbit in 1990, four servicing missions have kept it up and running - the last in 2002. The plan is to keep the telescope working through periodic service calls to replace aging batteries, gyroscopes, electronic boxes, cameras and other equipment designed for quick switch-outs. The science community regards Hubble as a national treasure, as few other instruments have returned so much data over such a long period. But Hubble is hobbled. The current gyroscopes are seven years old and wearing out. Of its four gyroscopes, two are used for day-to-day operations and two are backups. This gives the observatory enough "gyro power" to last only a few more years - precious little time for astronomers.  Full Story Tampa Tribune_ 7/1/06

Hubble's main camera successfully switched to backup power

Officials had said Friday they had initiated the switchover to backup power for the camera. Now they've said switchover was successful, the camera has been restarted, and science observations are schedule to resume Sunday. The Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) had been offline since June 19. The problem involved a power supply interface that functions similarly to the power adaptor on a laptop computer. Hubble officials said earlier that targets missed during the ACS's downtime should be available for imaging later in the year, so overall no observing plans will be dropped.  Full Story  Space.com_ 7/1/06

Hubble finds 'tenth planet' nicknamed Xena is slightly larger than Pluto

Though previous ground-based observations suggested that Xena's diameter was about 30 percent greater than Pluto, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope observations taken Dec. 9 and 10, 2005, showed Xena's diameter as 1,490 miles (with an uncertainty of 60 miles). Pluto's diameter, as measured by Hubble, is 1,422 miles. "Hubble is the only telescope capable of getting a clean visible-light measurement of the actual diameter of Xena," said Mike Brown, planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. Brown's research team discovered Xena, officially cataloged as 2003 UB313, and its results have been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. Xena is 10 billion miles from Earth with a diameter a little more than half the width of the United States. Xena's takes about 560 years to orbit the sun, and it is now very close to aphelion (the point on its orbit that is farthest from the sun). Brown next plans to use Hubble and other telescopes to study other recently discovered Kuiper Belt objects that are almost as large as Pluto and Xena. The Kuiper Belt is a vast ring of primordial icy comets and larger bodies encircling Neptune's orbit. The Hubble Space Telescope is an international cooperative project between NASA and the European Space Agency.  Full Story NASA/PRNewswire_ 4/11/06

Hubble photographs spiral beauty

The Hubble Space Telescope has captured the most detailed image ever taken of a spiral galaxy.  Astronomers stitched together 51 separate images from Hubble -- with a few other details from ground-based instruments -- to build this mosaic of Messier 101, also known as the Pinwheel Galaxy.  At an impressive 16,000 by 12,000 pixels, the image is the largest and most detailed ever caught of a spiral galaxy.  The Pinwheel Galaxy is about 170,000 light-years wide, almost twice the diameter of our own Milky Way, and is estimated to contain at least one trillion stars.  Astronomers believe that perhaps 100 billion of those stars may be similar to our sun, and millions of individual objects can be picked from this image.  Full Story_CNN 3/1/06

Hubble shows Orion Nebula's "bustling cauldron"
Failed stars, baby stars and vast cosmic canyons of dust and gas were on display in a new Hubble Space Telescope image of the Orion Nebula released on Wednesday.  "Orion is a bustling caldron of activity," Jennifer Wiseman of NASA said in a statement released with the image at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.  The most eye-catching feature of the image may be the caverns of light where thousands of stars are forming. More than 3,000 stars of various sizes are apparent.  Full Story_ Reuters 1/11/06

Hubble spies homeless black hole

A supermassive black hole appears to be homeless in the cosmos without a galaxy to nestle in, Hubble Space Telescope scientists reported on Wednesday. Most monster black holes lurk at the heart of massive galaxies, slurping up matter from the galactic center with a pull so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape. But a team of European astronomers reported in the journal Nature that a particular black hole some 5 billion light-years away has no evidence of a host galaxy.   Full Story_ CNN 9/14/05

Hubble captures dust plume images

The Hubble Space Telescope has given astronomers a sneak preview of what they might see July 4 when a NASA probe strikes a comet, creating a cosmic display that may be visible with the naked eye in part of the Western Hemisphere.  One of a series of photos taken by the orbiting observatory while preparing for the Independence Day encounter shows a 1,400-mile plume of dust spewing from the comet toward the sun.  The Deep Impact spacecraft will release a probe that is set to collide with the Tempel 1 comet early on the morning of July 4. Researchers are hoping for their first look into the heart of the comet, perhaps offering clues about the formation of the solar system. 

Full Story _ AP 6/27/05


NASA plans to bring down Hubble
The Hubble Space Telescope and a mission to explore Jupiter's moons look to be the biggest casualties in Nasa's 2006 budget plans. Under the proposals, a mission to service Hubble would be scrapped and a robot mission would be developed to steer it into the ocean at the end of its life. "Hubble is a spacecraft that is dying," said NASA comptroller Steve Isakowitzat in a briefing in advance of the budget's release. "We have decided that the risks associated with the Hubble servicing at this time don't merit going forward." Hubble supporters believe the telescope still has good years of science observation ahead of it - provided it is serviced. They hope Congress, which has to approve the budget, will insist on money being found to save the orbiting observatory.  Full Story BBC News_ 2/7/05

Hubble rescue 'will be scrapped'
The future of the Hubble Space Telescope is in doubt after the White House refused $1 billion for a rescue plan, US media has reported. US space agency Nasa will announce the decision in February, ending plans to send a human or a robot repairman, the Washington Post reported. For 15 years Hubble has captured some of the most profound images of space.  Full Story  Washington Post/BBC News_ 1/23/05

December, 2004

Departing NASA chief Sean O'Keefe has no regrets over decision to bar astronauts from fixing Hubble
O'Keefe, who is leaving NASA to be chancellor of the main campus of Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge, told reporters at a news conference that the agency he did not regret one of his most unpopular decisions, barring a shuttle mission to let astronauts refurbish and save the Hubble Space Telescope, on the ground that it would be too risky for the crew. "The decision that I made I intend to stand by," he said. An option to service the telescope with a robotic craft should be pursued, he said, in spite of a report last week by a panel of the National Academy of Sciences that said it was risky and might not be ready in time. People should wait for the results of two design reviews of the robot option next year before deciding it will not work, he said.  Full Story  New York Times_ 12/18/04 (logon required)

National Academy of Sciences panel urges NASA to use astronauts to save Hubble

The recommendation contradicts NASA policy in a long and bitter debate over science and safety. After six months of study conducted at Congress's request, the committee of 21 experts said that a robotic mission like the one proposed by NASA to repair the Hubble Space Telescope would hold too many uncertainties, that it would probably be ready too late to extend the telescope's life and that it might actually damage the instrument. A manned repair mission would be about as dangerous as a typical mission to the International Space Station, the scientists said. Full Story  New York Times_ 12/9/04 (logon required)

Hubble Space Telescope spots 'youngest galaxy' in the Universe

The spring chicken may be as young as 500 million years old - so recent that complex life had already arisen on Earth by the time it started to bloom. Called I Zwicky 18, it has provided astronomers with a rare glimpse into what the Universe's first diminutive galaxies might have looked like. The finding is reported in the latest issue of the Astrophysical Journal. Full Story  BBC News_ 12/7/04

November, 2004

Saving Hubble; It all depends on Dextre

It is by no means a sure thing. Yet largely because of the Canadian robot named "Dextre," NASA has gone in less than a year from virtually writing off the Hubble to embracing a mission that will cost between $1 billion and $1.6 billion and approach in complexity the hardest jobs the agency has ever undertaken. To do it, the United States must develop its first-ever robotic docking vehicle, fill a bag with tools that, in many cases, have not been invented, and use the robot repairman to unscrew j-hooks, open and shut doors and "drawers," disconnect and attach electric connectors, and rig jumper cables. By the end of 2007, NASA hopes to put into orbit its Hubble Robotic Vehicle of four components: a de-orbit module designed to dock with Hubble; a grappling arm to seize the telescope during docking and serve as a repair platform; an ejection module to carry spare parts and tools; and Dextre.  Full Story  Washington Post/MSNBC_ 11/12/04

September, 2004

Hubble's deepest shot a puzzle; where are all the stars?

Scientists studying the deepest picture of the Universe, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, the Ultra Deep Field, were shown fewer stars than expected being born at this time. It brings into question current ideas on cosmic evolution. Dr Andrew Bunker, of Exeter University, UK, who led a team studying the new data. is now urging the US space agency (Nasa) to proceed with a servicing mission to upgrade the orbital telescope so it can solve the mystery. Full Story  BBC News_ 9/23/04

August, 2004

NASA to save Hubble telescope
The US space agency has given the go-ahead for a robotic mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA chief Sean O'Keefe has asked for a firm mission proposal to be worked up in a year, after which a decision whether to proceed will be made. It's expected to cost $1 billion to $1.5 billion. "Everybody says: 'We want to save the Hubble'. Well, let's go save the Hubble," Mr O'Keefe said. NASA ceased manned missions to service Hubble after the Columbia disaster.  Full Story  BBC News_ 8/11/04

Two-armed Canadian robot top candidate for saving Hubble

NASA is moving ahead with plans to send a robot to the rescue of the aging Hubble Space Telescope and the leading candidate is a clunky contraption named Dextre that bears little resemblance to movie-inspired visions of a robot. A final decision won't be made until next summer on whether to launch the two-armed Dextre -- short for dexterous -- or any other robot to Hubble's rescue in 3 1/2 years.  Full Story  AP/CNN_ 8/10/04

Hubble sights Milky Way's 'twin'

NGC 3949 is a large spiral galaxy and, in astronomical terms at least, is relatively nearby at around 50 million light-years away from Earth. NGC 3949 is a member of more than 50 galaxies located in the direction of the Big Dipper, in the constellation Ursa Major (The Great Bear). The image was created from data taken with the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 in 2001.  Full Story  BBC News_ 8/9/04

Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph stops working

The STIS, installed in 1997 and designed to work for five years, was used to investigate black holes, to discover dim stars that reveal clues to the age of the Universe and study the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet. Nasa has asked for proposals for a robotic servicing mission, which could launch in 2007. Full Story  BBC News_ 8/7/04


July, 2004

NASA urged to keep Hubble repair options open

NASA should not rule out sending a shuttle to fix the aging Hubble Space Telescope, an expert panel told the space agency on Tuesday, six months after a planned repair mission was dismissed as too risky. If its steadying gyroscopes and aging batteries are not replaced, the orbiting telescope is expected to lose its ability to support scientific investigations by 2007 or 2008.  Full Story  Reuters_7/13/04

Hubble Space Telescope may have discovered as many as 100 new planets orbiting stars in our galaxy
If confirmed it would almost double the number of planets known to be circling other stars to about 230. The discovery will lend support to the idea that almost every sunlike star in our galaxy, and probably the Universe, is accompanied by planets.  Full Story BBC News_ 7/2/04

June, 2004

NASA taps MD Robotics of Canada to work on a potential spaceflight mission to robotically service the Hubble Space Telescope

The firm has a long history with space robotics, perhaps best known for supplying the Canadarm, or Space Shuttle Remote Manipulator. MD Robotics is a wholly owned subsidiary of MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) of Richmond, British Columbia. The company was formed in May 1999 following the acquisition of the robotics business from Spar Aerospace Limited. It is located in Brampton, Ontario Canada.  Full Story  Space.com_ 6/15/04

Beyond robots, NASA has shuttle plan to fix Hubble
One day after NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe announced plans to look for robots to fix the aging Hubble Space Telescope, scientists heard on Wednesday about a proposal to use shuttle astronauts to do essentially the same job.
Wayne Hale, deputy manager of the shuttle program at NASA's Johnson Space Center, told a National Academy of Sciences panel investigating ways to repair the Hubble that it might be possible to use the shuttle for a mission to extend the Hubble's life. The shuttle plan was conceived before O'Keefe announced future missions to fix Hubble, but is being considered by the science panel which NASA had asked to look at the issue. Full Story Reuters_6/2/04

It's official: NASA seeks robots to fix Hubble telescope
NASA chief Sean O'Keefe called for proposals for a robotic repair mission to the orbiting telescope, about six months after deciding that no future shuttle astronaut missions will be sent to Hubble. Such a repair mission should be made no later than 2007, he said. Without such a mission, Hubble's capabilities are expected to erode in the next two or three years as its stability gyroscopes fail and its batteries fade, making targeted observation all but impossible.  Full Story  Reuters_ 6/1/04

May, 2004

Historic first: Hubble Space Telescope sees 'planet' orbiting another star
Astronomers are being cautious, saying they require more data to be sure it really is a planet and not a background object caught in the same field of view. Confirmation will come if follow-up observations can show the planet and the star moving together through space.  Full Story  BBC News_ 5/12/04

NASA weighs robotic mission to aid Hubble
Early this year NASA had all but written off the Hubble Space Telescope, but today a robotic mission to replace worn-out batteries and gyros, and even to install new instruments, suddenly seems so doable that the agency is likely to ask for proposals to do the job in early June.  Full Story  Washington Post 5/10/04

For aging Hubble, basic questions about the universe: ET, you out there?
With the end in sight for the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers are posing the most basic cosmic questions to the orbiting observatory. One essential question is whether there is intelligent life on planets besides Earth, said Mario Livio of the Baltimore-based telescope institute. Another is the examination of a mysterious dark energy, which is thought to make up about three-quarters of the energy in the universe.  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/5/04

April, 2004
NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe told U.S. lawmakers worried about the Hubble Space Telescope’s future that robotic servicing of the orbiting observatory appears to be more feasible than agency officials initially believed
O’Keefe said NASA is taking a closer look at two or three robotic options for extending Hubble’s service life and possibly even outfitting the telescope with one or more new instruments. NASA engineers will pick the most promising robotic option by June, he said, and then spend the rest of the summer examining it in greater detail.  Full Story  Space.com_  4/26/04

Happy Birthday, Hubble!
The Hubble Space Telescope turns 14 with new photos: a remarkable ring of star birth in a galaxy that's been punched through by another. Full Story and Photos Space.com_ 4/22/04

Hubble sends astronomers a surprise: Sedna has no moon
Sedna, the Solar System's farthest known object, has a slow spin that was thought to be due to the gravity of a small, companion body. The Hubble Space Telescope picture, taken on 16 March with its Advanced Camera for Surveys, was required because the turbulence of the Earth's atmosphere makes Sedna's image unstable to ground-based telescopes.  Full Story  BBC News 4/15/04

Saving Hubble: Robots to the rescue?
NASA is reviewing over two dozen proposals to extend the useful scientific life of the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as safely dispose of the Earth orbiting observatory at the end of its life in space. There is growing support for robotic servicing of the Hubble -- but whether or not augmenting the telescope with new astronomical gear utilizing robot hardware is possible remains debatable.  Full Story  Space.com_ 4/5/04

March, 2004

International astronomers work to replace Hubble Space Telescope
The astronomers are lobbying for a successor that would allow developing nations greater access to space research. The $400 million World Space Observatory concept has the support of more than 20 countries - including nations like South Africa, Argentina and Mexico - that do not have large space programs of their own.  Full Story  BBC/ABC News 3/31/04

Astronauts lobby to save Hubble
Though the decision is not absolute, there appears to be little chance NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe will change his mind about a Hubble servicing mission, deeming it too risky to astronauts in the wake of Columbia.  Full story  AP/MSNBC 3/18/04

NASA to get second opinion before deciding Hubble's fate
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe agreed Thursday to seek outside advice before abandoning the Hubble Space Telescope, but said he's firm in his decision not to risk sending astronauts on a Hubble service mission.  Full story  Houston Chronicle 3/11/04

Hubble finds farthest galaxies strangest yet
Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) unveiled the deepest look into the universe yet, a portrait of what could be the most distant galaxies ever seen.  Full story  Space.com 3/9/04


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