Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hubble Checks out Well, Say Relieved Scientists NASA Expects to Release Telescope's First New Pictures Later This Week

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hubble Checks out Well, Say Relieved Scientists NASA Expects to Release Telescope's First New Pictures Later This Week

Article excerpt

FOR scientists and engineers working with the Hubble Space Telescope, the new year has been encouraging.

"Activities continue to go extremely well" in checking out the repaired orbiting observatory, says public information officer Mike Finneran at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Space Flight Center in Green Belt, Md. In fact, NASA canceled last week's scheduled teleconference progress report. The checkout was going so smoothly there was "nothing new to report," the agency said. Instead, NASA said it expects to release the first new Hubble pictures later this week.

This is good news for astronomers who now look forward to having an observatory that finally can deliver its design performance. That includes having a well-focused view of objects at the edge of the universe, some 15 billion light years away. A light year is the distance light travels through empty space in one year at the rate of nearly 300,000 kilometers a second. Since the universe itself is only about 15 billion years old, light from objects at that distance would have begun the journey when the universe was very young. Studying the universe's infancy was one of the Hubble telescope's primary mission objectives.

To do this, the telescope must concentrate 70 percent of an object's light within a core image only 0.1 arc-seconds in diameter, as originally planned. Because of the spherical-aberration defect distorting the telescope's 2.4-meter (94.5-inch) main mirror, only 15 percent of the light made it into that sharp-focus zone. Hubble's new "eyeglasses" seem to be taking care of this problem.

Endeavor astronauts installed two sets of corrective optics during their 11-day mission last month. One set is in the Wide Field Planetary Camera. This is a major Hubble instrument that was due for replacement anyway. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.