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HSM4 wrapping up May 18, 2009

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy.
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The astronauts are cleaning up the payload bay after the last servicing mission to Hubble.
So far, everything has eventually been successful, although some trouble getting in to STIS delayed the installation of the new thermal shield. The only disappointment has been the High Resolution Chanel on the Advanced Camera for Surveys, which NASA was not planning to repair, but had hoped would come back when the Wide Field Chanel was repaired. Alas, it did not, so ACS be stuck operating without it. However, as it was only used for about 25% of the observations with ACS, and ACS wasn’t working at all before this mission, it’s still a pretty big overall success.
The latest updates are available at

space based astronomy May 15, 2009

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy.
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Just is case you haven’t been paying attention to everything going on in the world of space based astronomy lately…
Herschel and Plank launched safely yesterday.

Herschel is a new IR telescope that is bigger and covers a deeper range than Spitzer. Plank is an ESA mission to study the Big Bang. You can watch a video of the launch at http://www.videocorner.tv/videocorner2/live_flv/index.php?langue=en
Herschel’s website is http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=16 and there’s an article a lot closer to home to me at http://astro.lsa.umich.edu/about/news.php#Hershel
Plank’s website is: http://www.rssd.esa.int/index.php?project=planck

You could also have watched the launch in Second Life, which might have been cool if I’d seen that announcement before the launch…

Also, the Hubble Servicing Mission is underway.  They successfully changed out WFPC2 for WFPC 3 yesterday, with some really tense moments when a bolt wouldn’t come loose. I’m pretty sure my neighbor was holding his breath for a good 15 minutes while they tried to figure out how to get the bolt out, and there were quite a few small cheers up and down the hall when Drew Feustal broke the torque on it. Astronomers are very excited about WFPC3 because it is a much better camera than WFPC2, and WFPC2 is the one that brought you most of the spectacular images and amazing discoveries like planet forming disks, moons of Pluto, expansion of supernova remnants, and distant galaxies associated with quasars, just to name a bare few.  If you want to watch the action, check out NASA TV at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html. You can also get the latest updates from http://hubblesite.org/.

NASA TV is also frequently playing on Explorer Island in SL and a few other locations if you want to try and watch with somebody.

Switch to Hubble data recorder side B successful October 19, 2008

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, Science.
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Earlier this week the Hubble Space Telescope Science Engeneers switched to side B.
So far, everything looks good. The ACS, NICMOS, and WFPC2 (the most used instruments) came out of safe mode and connected to side B succesfully.
The official press release is at