History of Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

This image illustrates the overall Hubble Space Telescope (HST) configuration. The HST is the product of a partnership between NASA, European Space Agency Contractors, and the international community of astronomers. It is named after Edwin P. Hubble, an American Astronomer who discovered the expanding nature of the universe and was the first to realize the true nature of galaxies. The purpose of the HST, the most complex and sensitive optical telescope ever made, is to study the cosmos from a low-Earth orbit. By placing the telescope in space, astronomers are able to collect data that is free of the Earth’s atmosphere. The HST detects objects 25 times fainter than the dimmest objects seen from Earth and provides astronomers with an observable universe 250 times larger than visible from ground-based telescopes, perhaps as far away as 14 billion light-years. The HST views galaxies, stars, planets, comets, possibly other solar systems, and even unusual phenomena such as quasars, with 10 times the clarity of ground-based telescopes. The major elements of the HST are the Optical Telescope Assembly (OTA), the Support System Module (SSM), and the Scientific Instruments (SI). The HST is approximately the size of a railroad car, with two cylinders joined together and wrapped in a silvery reflective heat shield blanket. Wing-like solar arrays extend horizontally from each side of these cylinders, and dish-shaped anternas extend above and below the body of the telescope. The HST was deployed from the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-31 mission) into Earth orbit in April 1990. The Marshall Space Flight Center had responsibility for design, development, and construction of the HST. The Perkin-Elmer Corporation, in Danbury, Connecticut, developed the optical system and guidance sensors. The Lockheed Missile and Space Company of Sunnyvale, California produced the protective outer shroud and spacecraft systems, and assembled and tested the finished telescope.

Space Radar Image of the Yucatan Impact Crater Site

This is a radar image of the southwest portion of the buried Chicxulub impact crater in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. The radar image was acquired on orbit 81 of space shuttle Endeavour on April 14, 1994 by the Spaceborne Imaging Radar C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR). The image is centered at 20 degrees north latitude and 90 degrees west longitude. Scientists believe the crater was formed by an asteroid or comet which slammed into the Earth more than 65 million years ago. It is this impact crater that has been linked to a major biological catastrophe where more than 50 percent of the Earth’s species, including the dinosaurs, became extinct. The 180-to 300-kilometer-diameter (110- to 180-mile) crater is buried by 300 to 1,000 meters (1,000 to 3,000 feet) of limestone. The exact size of the crater is currently being debated by scientists. This is a total power radar image with L-band in red, C-band in green, and the difference between C-band L-band in blue. The 10-kilometer-wide (6-mile) band of yellow and pink with blue patches along the top left (northwestern side) of the image is a mangrove swamp. The blue patches are islands of tropical forests created by freshwater springs that emerge through fractures in the limestone bedrock and are most abundant in the vicinity of the buried crater rim. The fracture patterns and wetland hydrology in this region are controlled by the structure of the buried crater. Scientists are using the SIR-C/X-SAR imagery to study wetland ecology and help determine the exact size of the impact crater. http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA01723

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. — With Commander Curtis L. Brown, Jr. and Pilot Kent V. Rominger at the controls, the Space Shuttle orbiter Discovery touches down on Runway 33 at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility at 7:07:59 a.m. EDT Aug. 19 to complete the 11-day, 20-hour and 27-minute-long STS-85 mission. The first landing opportunity on Aug. 18 was waved off due to the potential for ground fog. Also onboard the orbiter are Payload Commander N. Jan Davis, Mission Specialist Robert L. Curbeam, Jr., Mission Specialist Stephen K. Robinson and Payload Specialist Bjarni V. Tryggvason. During the 86th Space Shuttle mission, the crew deployed the Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes for the Atmosphere-Shuttle Pallet Satellite-2 (CRISTA-SPAS-2) free-flyer to conduct research on the Earth’s middle atmosphere, retrieving it on flight day 9. The crew also conducted investigations with the Manipulator Flight Demonstration (MFD), Technology Applications and Science-1 (TAS-1) and International Extreme Ultraviolet Hitchhiker-2 (IEH-2) experiments. Robinson also made observations of the comet HaleBopp with the Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System (SWIS) while other members of the crew conducted biological experiments in the orbiter’s crew cabin. This was the 39th landing at KSC in the history of the Space Shuttle program and the 11th touchdown for Discovery at the space center

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. — With drag chute deployed, the Space Shuttle orbiter Discovery touches down on Runway 33 at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility at 7:07:59 a.m. EDT Aug. 19 to complete the 11-day, 20-hour and 27-minute-long STS-85 mission. At the controls are Commander Curtis L. Brown, Jr. and Pilot Kent V. Rominger. The first landing opportunity on Aug. 18 was waved off due to the potential for ground fog. Also onboard the orbiter are Payload Commander N. Jan Davis, Mission Specialist Robert L. Curbeam, Jr., Mission Specialist Stephen K. Robinson and Payload Specialist Bjarni V. Tryggvason. During the 86th Space Shuttle mission, the crew deployed the Cryogenic Infrared Spectrometers and Telescopes for the AtmosphereShuttle Pallet Satellite-2 (CRISTA-SPAS-2) free-flyer to conduct research on the Earth’s middle atmosphere, retrieving it on flight day 9. The crew also conducted investigations with the Manipulator Flight Demonstration (MFD), Technology Applications and Science-1 (TAS-1) and International Extreme Ultraviolet Hitchhiker-2 (IEH-2) experiments. Robinson also made observations of the comet Hale-Bopp with the Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System (SWIS) while other members of the crew conducted biological experiments in the orbiter’s crew cabin. This was the 39th landing at KSC in the history of the Space Shuttle program and the 11th touchdown for Discovery at the space center

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Under the watchful eyes of Capt. George Hoggard (left), trainer with the KSC Fire Department, STS-93 Mission Specialist Catherine G. Coleman (Ph.D.) drives the M-113 armored personnel carrier during emergency egress training at the launch pad. Behind her is Pilot Jeffrey S. Ashby and Commander Eileen M. Collins. In preparation for their mission, the STS-93 crew are participating in Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test activities that also include a launch-day dress rehearsal culminating with a simulated main engine cut-off. Others in the crew participating are Mission Specialists Steven A. Hawley (Ph.D.) and Michel Tognini of France, who represents the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES). Collins is the first woman to serve as a mission commander. The primary mission of STS-93 is the release of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, which will allow scientists from around the world to obtain unprecedented X-ray images of exotic environments in space to help understand the structure and evolution of the universe. Chandra is expected to provide unique and crucial information on the nature of objects ranging from comets in our solar system to quasars at the edge of the observable universe. Since X-rays are absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere, space-based observatories are necessary to study these phenomena and allow scientists to analyze some of the greatest mysteries of the universe. The targeted launch date for STS-93 is no earlier than July 20 at 12:36 a.m. EDT from Launch Pad 39B

Hubble Witnesses an Asteroid Mysteriously Disintegrating

This series of images shows the asteroid P/2013 R3 breaking apart, as viewed by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope in 2013. This is the first time that such a body has been seen to undergo this kind of break-up. The Hubble observations showed that there are ten distinct objects, each with comet-like dust tails, embedded within the asteroid’s dusty envelope. The four largest rocky fragments are up to 200 metres in radius, about twice the length of a football pitch. The date increases from left to right, with frames from 29 October 2013, 15 November 2013, 13 December 2013, and 14 January 2014 respectively, showing how the clumps of debris material move around. The 14 January 2014 frame was not included in the science paper and is additional data. Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA) Read more: 1.usa.gov/1ig2E0x NASA image use policy. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission. Follow us on Twitter Like us on Facebook Find us on Instagram

50th Anniversary of NASA's OAO 2 Mission

On Dec. 7, 1968, an Atlas-Centaur rocket carrying NASA’s heaviest and most ambitious uncrewed satellite to date blasted into the sky from Launch Complex 36B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Formally known as Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO) 2 and nicknamed Stargazer, it would become NASA’s first successful cosmic explorer and the direct ancestor of Hubble, Chandra, Swift, Kepler, FUSE, GALEX and many other astronomy satellites. OAO 2 provided the first orbital stellar observations in ultraviolet light, shorter than wavelengths in the visible range spanning 3,800 (violet) to 7,500 (red) angstroms. Much of UV light is screened out by the atmosphere and unavailable to ground-based telescopes. Stargazer’s experiments made nearly 23,000 measurements, showed that young, hot stars were hotter than theoretical models of the time indicated, confirmed that comets are surrounded by vast clouds of hydrogen and discovered a curious feature of the interstellar medium that would take scientists decades to understand. One of the key problems scientists had to solve was how to direct a telescope to any point on the celestial sphere and hold it there for a half hour or so in order for instruments to record the data from faint sources. This makes OAO 2 the ancestor of all space telescopes that can point to a given spot on the sky and track it for an extended period. Prior to OAO 2, ultraviolet observations of stars were acquired by suborbital sounding rockets which collect data for only five minutes each flight as they arc above much of the atmosphere. By 1968, it was estimated that sounding rockets had captured a total of three hours of stellar UV measurements in some 40 flights. OAO 2 could collect more data than this in a single day. OAO 2 carried two experiments. Project Celescope (from “celestial telescope”) was led by Fred Whipple, director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Wisconsin Experiment Package was led by Arthur Code, a professor of astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The experiments were mounted back-to-back within the 4,436-pound (2,012 kilogram) spacecraft and looked out opposite ends, taking turns viewing the universe.

Pilot Joseph Algranti entering a McDonnell F2H-2B Banshee

Pilot Joe Algranti climbs into the cockpit of a McDonnell F2H-2B Banshee on the tarmac at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory. Nine months later the laboratory became part of the new National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the NACA logo was permanently removed from the hangar. Algranti served as a Navy fighter pilot from 1946 to 1947 and earned a Physics degree from the University of North Carolina. He joined the NACA Lewis staff in 1951 witnessed the technological transformation from high speed flight to space. At Lewis Algranti piloted icing research flights, operated the liquid-hydrogen pump system for Project Bee, and served as the primary test subject for the Multi-Axis Space Test Inertia Facility (MASTIF). The MASTIF was a device used to train the Mercury astronauts how to control a spinning capsule. In 1960, Algranti and fellow Lewis pilots Warren North and Harold Ream transferred to NASA’s Space Task Group at Langley to actively participate in the space program. Two years later, Algranti became the Chief of Aircraft Operations and Chief Test Pilot at NASA’s new Manned Space Center in Houston. Algranti earned notoriety in 1968 when he test flew the first Lunar Landing Training Vehicle. He operated the vehicle four minutes before being forced to eject moments before it impacted the ground. Algranti also flew the NASA’s modified Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, the Super Guppy, and the KC-135 “Vomit Comet” training aircraft. He retired in 1992 with over 40 years of NASA service.

History of Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

This is an artist’s concept of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The HST is the product of a partnership between NASA, European Space Agency Contractors, and the international community of astronomers. It is named after Edwin P. Hubble, an American Astronomer who discovered the expanding nature of the universe and was the first to realize the true nature of galaxies. The purpose of the HST, the most complex and sensitive optical telescope ever made, is to study the cosmos from a low-Earth orbit. By placing the telescope in space, astronomers are able to collect data that is free of the Earth’s atmosphere. The HST detects objects 25 times fainter than the dimmest objects seen from Earth and provides astronomers with an observable universe 250 times larger than is visible from ground-based telescopes, perhaps as far away as 14 billion light-years. The HST views galaxies, stars, planets, comets, possibly other solar systems, and even unusual phenomena such as quasars, with 10 times the clarity of ground-based telescopes. The major elements of the HST are the Optical Telescope Assembly (OTA), the Support System Module (SSM), and the Scientific Instruments (SI). The HST is approximately the size of a railroad car, with two cylinders joined together and wrapped in a silvery reflective heat shield blanket. Wing-like solar arrays extend horizontally from each side of these cylinders, and dish-shaped anternas extend above and below the body of the telescope. The HST was deployed from the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-31 mission) into Earth orbit in April 1990. The Marshall Space Flight Center had responsibility for design, development, and construction of the HST. The Perkin-Elmer Corporation, in Danbury, Connecticut, developed the optical system and guidance sensors. The Lockheed Missile and Space Company of Sunnyvale, California produced the protective outer shroud and spacecraft systems, and assembled and tested the finished telescope.

History of Hubble Space Telescope (HST)

This is a photograph of a 1/15 scale model of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The HST is the product of a partnership between NASA, European Space Agency Contractors, and the international community of astronomers. It is named after Edwin P. Hubble, an American Astronomer who discovered the expanding nature of the universe and was the first to realize the true nature of galaxies. The purpose of the HST, the most complex and sensitive optical telescope ever made, is to study the cosmos from a low-Earth orbit. By placing the telescope in space, astronomers are able to collect data that is free of the Earth’s atmosphere. The HST detects objects 25 times fainter than the dimmest objects seen from Earth and provides astronomers with an observable universe 250 times larger than visible from ground-based telescopes, perhaps as far away as 14 billion light-years. The HST views galaxies, stars, planets, comets, possibly other solar systems, and even unusual phenomena such as quasars, with 10 times the clarity of ground-based telescopes. The major elements of the HST are the Optical Telescope Assembly (OTA), the Support System Module (SSM), and the Scientific Instruments (SI). The HST is 42.5-feet (13- meters) long and weighs about 25,000 pounds (11,600 kilograms). The HST was deployed from the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-31 mission) into Earth orbit in April 1990. The Marshall Space Flight Center had responsibility for design, development, and construction of the HST. The Perkin-Elmer Corporation, in Danbury, Cornecticut, developed the optical system and guidance sensors. The Lockheed Missile and Space Company of Sunnyvale, California produced the protective outer shroud and spacecraft systems, and assembled and tested the finished telescope.