Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hubble Gets A Facelift


Due to the phasing out of the Shuttle program by 2010, STS-125 due to launch October 10th. will probably be the final opportunity to patch and repair the 18 year old Hubble Telescope.

What a ride it's been, wow. This little scope that could has helped scientists figure out the age of the universe, around 13.7 billion years old, found numerous black holes, and imaged tons of beautiful images for people like you and me.

I remember the day I got my first computer and color printer, first stop, Astronomy Picture of the Day to print off tons of Hubble images, I still have them in binders today.

They have a very aggressive replacement/repair agenda planned out for Hubble. First off they will be replacing WFPC2, one of Hubble's major cameras with the 10x better WFCP3 as well as replacing the Scope's rechargeable batteries which power the Hubble's scientific instruments during the night time of each orbit.

They will also replace the Hubble's 6 gyroscopes, do you know that it has been working on only 2 since 2005? They will also replace a faulty Fine Guidance Sensor with a refurbished one and install thermal insulation to help keep the equipment at a cool running temperature.



Previous repair missions to the scope have usually just entailed removing or installing equipment, this time out they will be attempting to repair a couple, 1. The Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) or as they call it, the Black hole hunter.

But that's not all folks, oh no , they will be installing a Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS), this will be a key instrument, answering some of the more profound questions of the cosmos such as how galaxies have formed and evolved. This makeover should give the Hubble another 5 good years of life, maybe as much as 10.


The image above may be the first ever actual photograph of an exosolar planet orbiting a star similar to our Sun, more info gathering has to be done before they can say conclusively that it is. The planet has 8x the mass of our Jupiter and is about 330 times out from it's Sun as we are from ours, the image was taken with the Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii. What I find interesting is, if it is actually orbiting at that distance away from it's Sun, just think of how many possible other planets are in between, very cool.


Last but not least, tomorrow night, get ready for another occultation/conjunction of the Moon and the Pleiades!! For around 60-90 minutes our Moon will cover then uncover some of the stars in the Pleiades cluster, chances are if you live in the east side of North America you'll get an occultation, the west part, a conjunction, the Moon will have uncovered the Pleiades by the time it rises in the west. Just look to the NE at Moon Rise to see the celestial magic, I love when those two get together, so pretty. I took the image above last night as a dress rehearsal, to get the lay of the land, exposure settings, access to the site, short cuts, in case a train gets in my way, ect., can't leave anything for chance, forecast is looking excellent, getting excited, stay tuned for pics.

I'll leave you now with a Moon Rise image I took tonight.

45 comments:

Will said...

It is hard to believe it has been 18 years! As a matter of fact, it is not possible. I am going to have to check up on that. hehe.

The moonrise the past several nights has been something else, viewed through the smoke. With my new day job, I got to see the moon set also. Ugh!
Eight times the mass of Jupiter!!? Guess there is no chance of biped aliens there!

Ruth said...

The moonrise and prep shot images are gorgeous. And that exosolar planet, wowowowow!

My deceased brother would have loved to follow all this, as he did so before he died. But then, maybe he's seeing better things . . .

Oh, and a friend of ours who was in the astronaut program actually came up with the idea to use the gyroscope for aligning space shuttles with the earth's axis (or something like that).

Swubird said...

Bob:

Great post.

That's a huge planet orbiting that star. But I thought that they had already proved conclusively that there are planets orbiting other stars?

Also, please help me with something. I heard someplace that they are preparing to launch another space based telescope that will be much more powerful than Hubble. Have you heard anything about that?

Happy stargazing.

Z.Equiano said...

wow you know too much about the sky Bob lol. The pics are always beautiful and I guess I am so used to looking at the ground these pics have me looking like a deer in headlights lol.

Sherer said...

Bob,

Just the post I was looking for! Brilliant!

Any news of telescopes being built that will be more powerful than Hubble? all I hear is rumors.

The thing that boggles my mind about the extra solar planet is that how could a planet that big form so far away from the host star? I guess with all the diversity and action going on in nebuli (?) variations in planetary formation are the norm?

And I can't wait for the conjunction tonight. Its going to be great - we finally have some clear skies too

The Uneasy Supplicant said...

I agree Bob. The Hubble telescope has certainly provided us with astounding images and info about our universe and its good to know they are going to retrofit and update it to keep it going for many more years to come. Weren't they talking at one time about abandoning any repairs in the future. I'm glad they changed there mind.
Your moonrises are astounding my friend. The benefit of living out in the prairies. you must be in the grip of some pretty cold weather. At least the sky should be clear eh?

Sorry my visits have been few. University is a killer this year.

Hey check out the poll at the MW Site. Vote.
~JD

Bob Johnson said...

Lol Will, what a kidder, my cat is the same age, and boy does she need some work too,lol.

The Moon Rises here have been pretty good too, keeping my fingers crossed for tonight and the Pleiades Moon gathering.

Lol no bipeds, probably not, might be something though, I'm interested in the other planets in between.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Ruth.

Ruth your brother is seeing much cooler things, I expect a tour of the cosmos when I pass.

That is way cool about your friend, ask if we can hang out,lol.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Hey swubird you are so right,but this is the first exoplanet captured photographically orbiting a Sun similar to ours.

You are right also about a bigger space telescope, they have approved plans for the James Webb telescope which will see around a 2013 launch date,(link below) we shall see how it all comes out, as you know space plans do change according to which government is
in charge.

http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/

\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks so much z.equiano, well I read a lot of space stuff, so I am an armchair space guy know it all,lol.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Jesse, yep like I mentioned in swubird's comment, the Telescope is the James Webb Space Telescope.

http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/

It's mirror will be over 2.5 times larger then the Hubble's, the Hubble's is about 2.5 meters in diameter, so we will be able to see further back in time, to earlier galaxies.

Me too Jesse, they may have to rethink some of their planetary theories if this planet holds up, very odd isn't it.

Good luck with the Moon/ Pleiades, exciting isn't it?\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JD, you are right about them changing their mind, it's be on again off again, but there was such an uproar about not repairing it, they weighed the pros and cons and decided it to be beneficial to spend the funds and repair.

This fix should last until they get the James Webb up and running, hopefully, all depends on the priorities of the Government at the time.

It's been warm lately and yes we have some great Moon rises here, one good thing about our flatness,lol, hey thanks for dropping by, hope your university classes are doing fine, and I will check outthe poll.\m/\m/

Moonshadow said...

Bob, just wanted to let you know the glasses arrived today, Thank You!

On your previous post your microlandscapes made me think how Horton of Horton Hears a Who sure could have used this technology. :)

Bob Johnson said...

Glad the glasses arrived moonshadow and lol about Horton of Whoville./\m/\m/

Ruth said...

Unfortunately Bruce is a friend in California, and we don't keep in touch much these days. But he loves camping, and I'll bet you have some great hiking and camping up there. He and Don used to go up in the mountains when we lived in CA.

Susanne49 said...

Beautiful photos and a great post again, Bob!

I have learned so much since I know your blog, a lot of new "stuff" what I never have been interested in that much, like I'm now.:-)

Thanks for sharing all this wisdom with me/us.

Genie said...

I love seeing those shots of the shuttle mission. The astronauts, looks like their eyes are squinted shut. Is that right? I am surprised they were brave enough to open their solar helmet shields (whatever they're called) at all but I guess if you want your FACE seen in a photo outside the shuttle, you kind of have to brave it?

DaveD said...

This is my first visit here, these pictures are amazing !! And the header image is one of the best i've seen around :)

Priyank said...

Liked the moon pic. It is looking stunning these days during moonrises :)

Bob Johnson said...

Too bad for me Ruth, hey if you ever do talk to him see if he would like to do a guest post here.;-) ;)

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks a lot Susanne, That's what I try to do, get people thinking on space stuff, thanks for the great feedback.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Hi genie, their sun shield should be down all the time except for maybe when they get their pics taken, got to be very careful with the strength of the Sun with no atmosphere to protect them, I'd be squinting too,eyes probably take time to adapt.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Why thank you Daved and thanks for dropping by, the header is very cool for sure.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks priyank, we have been having good luck with the weather lately for Moon Rises, in that we have had some clouds to add atmosphere to the views, extra orange/red colors.\m/\m/

Virtual Voyage said...

Browser crashed last time I was in, Bob - thanks for the update on Hubble. Had a harvest moon here last night.

kml said...

Wow - your moonrise is gorgeous - love the color!

My husband and I have also enjoyed viewing the Hubble pics. We were so spellbound when we first discovered them. Glad they are keeping the telescope going, and we will hope for 10 rather than 5 years.

Hadrian's Wall said...

Thanks for dropping by, great blog you have here; think your images are inspirational. I like the 3D yoda!

Hadrian

Bob Johnson said...

No Problem Virtual Voyage, like to do updates.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Kathy, actually looking through some of my old binders of hubble shots, I hope it lasts 10 years as well but if not we should have the new James Webb space scope up and running by 2013.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Hadrian, lol, yes Yoda is my favorite 3D shot, glad you like him in 3D.\m/\m/

AngelBaby said...

I am so happy that they are fixing the Hubble telescope. I love the pictures that it takes. I have tried to see them all but I know I missed a few.

The pictures here are just wonderful. That planet looks big enough to have life on it. What if is does, wow, that would be so cool!

As usual you did a magnificent job again, and you wonder why I love your blog. Thanks for sharing this.

Love and Blessings,
AngelBaby

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks so much AngelBaby, glad you like the site.\m/\m/

Max said...

Hey Lord of the Astropics!

Exosolar planet??? Now that is interesting! (I have seen that you posted an article about it, which I will read after finishing this comment)

Loved that photo where astronauts are repairing Hubble: is that the earth in the background? Gorgeous!!!

Bob, superb moonrise, man! Congratulations for a job well done :D!

Have a great week, mate!

Cheers

Oswegan said...

really cool post and images. hope all is well.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks max, yes that is the Earth behind them, always makes for a magnificent pic, and you have a great week as well.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks oswegan, I'm doing great hope you are as well.\m/\m/

Roger said...

Awesome post Bob you keep me connected on whats going on up there a lot better than the news! Happy star shooting to ya!

rubenh (thesocialreformer.com) said...

i love things about space

Bob Johnson said...

Hey thanks Roger.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks, and thanks for dropping by
rubenh.\m/\m/

Peter said...

Hi! As I was looking at those two guys standing outside the shuttle, I thought to myself what would you give to be one of them.

As for the Humble Hubble, what a trooper. Any idea if there are any plans to replace it?

Take Care,
Peter

Bob Johnson said...

Me too Peter, in 2013 they will replace the Hubble with The James Webb Telescope.\m/\m/


www.jwst.nasa.gov

Disney tickets said...

well it was much needed

Bob Johnson said...

For sure disney tickets.\m/\m/

Anonymous said...

Hello there,

Thanks for sharing the link - but unfortunately it seems to be not working? Does anybody here at blackholesandastrostuff.blogspot.com have a mirror or another source?


Thanks,
Thomas