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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

About the
Hubble Space Telescope

Taken from:
Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review
Produced by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Space
Telescope Science Institute.

The full contents of this book include more Hubble science


articles, an overview of the telescope, and more. The com-
plete volume and its component sections are available for
download online at:
www.hubblesite.org/hubble_discoveries/science_year_in_review
Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review
Foreword
In his first address to the Congress in 1825, President John Quincy Adams proposed a national observatory—a “lighthouse of the
sky,” he called it, “with provision for the support of an astronomer, to be in constant attendance of observation upon the phenomena
of the heavens; and for the periodical publication of his observations.”

In 1946, Lyman Spitzer conceived of a national observatory in the sky, and 44 years later, in April 1990, it became a reality with the
launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. Today, Hubble is widely regarded as the most successful scientific facility in all history.

This book epitomizes Hubble’s continuing years of glorious accomplishments, presenting a sample of the activities, operations and
observations, and scientific findings from 2007. Here is our observatory. Here are a few of our talented people. Here is what we
have done!

NASA plans a final servicing mission to Hubble in 2008. Two powerful new instruments are to be installed, and repairs made. After
the astronauts do their wonderful work, Hubble will be more capable than at any time since launch. The science community eagerly
anticipates the new opportunities for research offered by a refurbished observatory. While we do not know exactly what new science
stories will appear in future editions of this book, we are certain that the frontiers of science will continue to be pushed outward by
the forces of human curiosity and cleverness, channeled by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The “lighthouse” that is Hubble will inevitably go dark sometime in the next decade. Today, NASA and its international partners are
currently working hard to complete the James Webb Space Telescope, whose infrared sensitivity will enable it to look deeper into
space and farther back in cosmic time than Hubble can. Meanwhile, the next generation of “Adamses” and “Spitzers” are imagining
larger versions of Hubble, which sometime in the future will again take up space astronomy in the ultraviolet, visual, and near-
infrared wavelength regimes.

This Hubble image of planetary nebula NGC 2440 shows the colorful “last hurrah” of a star like our Sun. The star formed a cocoon of mate-
rial by casting off its outer layers of gas. Ultraviolet light from the remaining core causes the material to glow. The burned-out star, called a
white dwarf, appears as a white dot near the center of the cocoon.

Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


This Hubble image shows the small open star cluster Pismis 24 located to the right of the large emission nebula NGC 6357, and found in
the constellation Scorpius, about 8,000 light-years from Earth. Intense ultraviolet radiation from the massive stars in Pismis 24 is sculpting
the clouds of gas in the nebula.

Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


“Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe
around him and calls the adventure Science.”
—Edwin Powell Hubble

Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review
Hubble’s History
Hubble’s remarkable mission has now spanned 17 years. During that time, it has been at the
nexus of perhaps the most exciting period of discovery in the history of astronomy. At the same
time, Hubble has offered up some of the most daunting challenges to humans working in space,
and success in meeting those challenges has been among NASA’s greatest triumphs.

Since its launch in 1990, Hubble has been visited four times by astronauts to fix, restore, and upgrade its equipment. In
nearly constant use between these servicing missions, Hubble has generated data for thousands of scientific papers, on
topics ranging from discoveries of solar systems in formation, to precise measurements of the age of the universe.

The concept of a large telescope in space is as old as the space program itself. In a classified study in 1946, Lyman Spitzer
first articulated the scientific and technical rationale for space astronomy. He continued to be the champion of the dream of a
large telescope in space until it was realized. Supported by colleagues John Bahcall, George Field, and others, Spitzer was a
tireless advocate within the astronomical community, to the public, and to the Federal Government. The outcome was a “new
start” for the mission, authorized by Congress in 1977.

The technology needed for the Hubble Space Telescope was well advanced when work began. However, other serious
technological and management challenges characterized the tumultuous years of Hubble’s design and manufacture. This
turmoil culminated with the tragic loss of Space Shuttle Challenger and its crew in January 1986. Finally, against the
backdrop of unrestrained anticipation by the public and the astronomical community alike, NASA launched Hubble into orbit
on Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-31) on April 24, 1990.

Engineers and technicians conduct a fit check in early 1986 on one of Hubble’s original retractable solar arrays in a clean room of the
Lockheed Missile and Space Company.

Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Hubble’s first few months were disastrous. Instead of returning crisp, point-like images of stars, its images showed stars surrounded
by large, fuzzy halos of light. The source of the problem was traced to an error in constructing the equipment used to test Hubble’s
mirror during manufacture. Optical tests using this equipment led technicians to grind the mirror to the wrong shape, giving it a
classic case of “spherical aberration.” The mirror was perfectly smooth, but would not focus light to a single point.

Hubble was designed to be visited by astronauts. Even before launch, NASA had begun to build a second-generation camera
to replace the main camera that was launched with the telescope. Optical experts realized they could build corrective optics into
the camera to counteract the flaw in the Hubble mirror. NASA accelerated work on the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2),
and Hubble scientists and engineers designed a mechanical fixture called Corrective Optics Space Telecope Axial Replacement
(COSTAR) to deploy corrective optics in the light paths to the other instruments. In December 1993, astronauts returned to Hubble
and undertook an ambitious set of space walks to install the new equipment. The modifications worked flawlessly, restoring Hubble’s
image quality to nearly the original design goals.

In the decade following the first servicing mission, Hubble has treated astronomers and the public to the clearest and deepest views
of the universe—scenes of profound beauty and intellectual challenge. Thousands of astronomers have used Hubble for boundary-
breaking research in virtually all areas, from our own Solar System to the farthest depths of the expanding universe. Three additional
servicing missions in 1997, 1999, and 2002 punctuated this era, and a final mission to upgrade and refurbish Hubble is planned
for 2008.

The 1997 mission brought tremendous improvements to Hubble’s spectroscopic capabilities with the insertion of the Space
Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS). STIS observations not only demonstrated that black holes are ubiquitous in the centers
of galaxies, but also showed that the black hole masses are tightly correlated with the masses of the surrounding ancient stellar
population. The 1997 mission also opened Hubble’s view to the near-infrared universe with the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-
Object Spectrometer (NICMOS). The clear views of distant galaxies provided by NICMOS have supplied a wealth of clues to the
complex physics in the early universe, which led to the formation of the Milky Way.

The Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off on February 29, 2002 at dawn, lighting up and disappearing into a cloud cover on its way to servicing
Hubble for the fourth time.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review
Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review
The servicing mission in 1999 enhanced many of Hubble’s subsystems, including the central computer, a new solid-state
data-recording system to replace the aging magnetic tape drives, and the gyroscopes needed for pointing control. A month
prior to launch, a gyroscope failure had forced Hubble into “safe mode,” with no ability to observe astronomical targets.

When a premature loss of solid-nitrogen coolant cut short NICMOS’s operational life, NASA engineers used innovative
mechanical refrigeration technology to develop an alternate way of cooling its detectors to their operating temperature of
–320° F. This cooling system was installed in 2002, and it brought the ailing instrument back to life. NICMOS has proved
crucial to observations of very distant supernovas used to measure the acceleration of the universe. The 2002 mission also
introduced Hubble’s most powerful camera—the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS)—providing a tenfold improvement
over WFPC2.

The final servicing mission in 2008 will install two new instruments, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and Wide
Field Camera 3 (WFC3). COS is the most sensitive ultraviolet spectrograph ever built for Hubble. The instrument will probe
the cosmic web—the large-scale structure of the universe—whose form is determined by the gravity of dark matter and
is traced by the spatial distribution of galaxies and intergalactic gas. WFC3 is a new camera that is sensitive across a wide
range of wavelengths (colors), including infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light. It will study planets in our Solar System, the
formation histories of nearby galaxies, and early and distant galaxies beyond Hubble’s current reach.

Attempts will also be made to repair two instruments currently installed in Hubble: the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph
(STIS) and the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). STIS was installed in 1997, and stopped working in 2004. When
repaired, the instrument will be used for high-resolution studies in visible and ultraviolet light of both nearby star systems
and distant galaxies, providing information about the motions and chemical makeup of stars, planetary atmospheres, and
other galaxies.

In this image, Hubble provides a detailed look at the tattered remains of a supernova explosion known as Cassiopeia A (Cas A). It is the
youngest known remnant from a supernova explosion in our Milky Way galaxy. The complex and intricate structure of the star’s shattered
fragments are clearly revealed. This image is a composite made from 18 separate images, taken in December 2004, using Hubble’s Ad-
vanced Camera for Surveys (ACS).

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


ACS suffered a partial failure in early 2007 after operating exquisitely for nearly five years. Astronomers hope that it
can be restored to its full capability to perform high-efficiency imaging in both the visible and ultraviolet portions of the
electromagnetic spectrum. Astronauts will also install a refurbished Fine Guidance Sensor to replace one degrading unit
of the three already onboard. Two of these sensors are routinely used to enable Hubble’s precise pointing, and the third is
available to astronomers for making accurate measurements of stellar positions.

The Hubble Space Telescope, operating at the intersection of the robotic and the human space flight programs, embodies
both the trials and triumphs of the space program. It has survived controversy, delays, and failures, and has proven to be
one of the most powerful and productive scientific tools ever developed.

Lyman Spitzer, Jr. (1914–1997) was one


of the 20th century’s great scientists. A
renowned astrophysicist, he made major
contributions in the areas of stellar dy-
namics, plasma physics, thermonuclear
fusion, and space astronomy. Spitzer,
working under a Research And Devel-
opment (RAND) study in 1946, was the
first person to describe the detailed ad-
vantages and concepts for a large space-
based telescope, and was a driving force
behind the development of the Hubble
Space Telescope. (Photo credit: Office of
Communications, Princeton University)

This detailed Hubble image reveals a towering “mountain” of cold hydrogen gas and dust within the large and complex Carina Nebula
(see front cover). The great pillars are being eroded away by ultraviolet radiation from hot young stars in the nebula.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review
Primary mirror
Hubble’s primary mirror is made of a special glass coated with alumi-
num and a special compound that reflects ultraviolet light. It is 2.4 m in
diameter and collects the light from stars and galaxies and reflects it to
the secondary mirror.

The Hubble Space Telescope

FGS
Hubble has three Fine Guidance Sensors on board. Two of
them are needed to point and lock the telescope on the target
and the third can be used for stellar position measurements,
also known as astrometry.

STIS
The Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) is currently not
operating, but is a versatile multipurpose instrument taking full ad-
vantage of modern technology. It combines a camera with a spectro-
graph and covers a wide range of wavelengths from the near-infrared
region into the ultraviolet. An attempt is planned to repair the instru-
ment on orbit during Servicing Mission 4.

COSTAR
The Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (CO-
STAR) is not really a science instrument: it is the corrective optics
package that replaced the High Speed Photometer (HSP) during
the first servicing mission. COSTAR was designed to correct the
effects of the primary mirror’s aberration.

NICMOS
The Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NIC-
MOS) is an instrument for near-infrared imaging and spectro-
scopic observations of astronomical targets. NICMOS detects
light with wavelengths from 800 to 2500 nm.

ACS
The Advanced Camera for Surveys suffered two separate electronics failures after
operating spectacularly on orbit for about five years, leaving it functional now
in only one specialized channel. Astronauts are currently practicing repair tech-
niques that could restore the instrument to full operation in the post-Sevicing
Mission 4 period.

Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Secondary mirror
Like the primary mirror, Hubble’s secondary mir-
ror is made of special glass coated with alumi- Aperture door
num and a special compound to reflect ultraviolet Hubble’s aperture door can close, if necessary,
light. It is .33 m in diameter and reflects the light to prevent light from the Sun from entering
back through a hole in the primary mirror and into the telescope.
the instruments.

Communication antennae
Data stored in Hubble’s solid state recorder is converted to
radio waves and then beamed through one of the spacecraft’s
high gain antennae to a NASA communications satellite
which relays it to the ground. Because they would extend
out of the image above and below the spacecraft, the anten-
nae are shown here pressed against the side of the telescope
in their “berthed position.” This is how they are configured
when Hubble is serviced by the astronauts in the payload bay
of the Shuttle.

Solar panels
Hubble’s third set of solar arrays produces enough power to
enable all the science instruments to operate simultaneously,
thereby making Hubble even more efficient. The panels are
rigid and unlike earlier versions, do not vibrate, making it pos-
sible to perform stable, pinpoint-sharp observations.

Support systems
Essential support systems such as computers, batteries,
gyroscopes, reaction wheels, and electronics are con-
tained in these areas.

WFPC2
WFPC2 was Hubble’s workhorse camera until the installation of ACS. It records excel-
lent quality images through a selection of 48 color filters covering a spectral range from
far-ultraviolet to visible and near-infrared wavelengths. WFPC2 has produced most of the
stunning pictures that have been released as public outreach images over the years.

Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review
Observatory Design
About the size and weight of a subway car, Hubble owes much of its design to the legacy of the
Cold War, being in many respects, a copy of a KH-11 reconnaissance satellite. Hubble is just one
of roughly a dozen large telescopes of similar design that have been lofted into orbit—but Hubble
was designed to look up, not down.

The heart of Hubble is its 2.4-m mirror. While small by the standards of ground-based observatories, this mirror collects
about 40,000 times as much light as the human eye, and its location above the distorting effects of the Earth’s atmosphere
allows Hubble to obtain very sharp images and view wavelengths of light that do not reach the Earth’s surface.

Hubble has an optical layout known as a Ritchie-Chrétien Cassegrain design. The incoming light bounces off the primary
mirror, up to a secondary mirror, and back down through a hole in the primary mirror, where it comes to a focus on a set of
“pickoff” mirrors that guides the light to the scientific instruments. A graphite-epoxy truss provides a rigid structure for the
main optics, and a system of baffles painted flat black is mounted within the telescope to suppress stray or scattered light
from the Sun, Moon, or Earth.

Hubble is encased in a thin aluminum shell, blanketed by many thin layers of insulation to reduce temperature fluctuations.
The telescope itself is housed in the narrower top section of the tube. Most of the control electronics sit in the middle of the
telescope, where the tube widens. The middle section also houses Hubble’s four 100-pound reaction wheels. Hubble reorients
itself around the sky by exchanging momentum with these spinning flywheels. Astronauts can easily access the devices in
Hubble’s midsection, and a number of these have been replaced or upgraded during servicing missions. At the back end of the
spacecraft, the “aft shroud” houses the scientific instruments, gyroscopes, star trackers, and other components.

Astronaut James H. Newman waves to a cabin-bound crewmate while moving about in Space Shuttle Columbia’s cargo bay during Servicing
Mission SM3B. Periodic servicing missions have kept Hubble at the forefront of astronomical research.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


A technician examines the electronic boards in the Cosmic Origins
Spectrograph.

All of the spacecraft’s interlocking shells—the light shield,


forward shell, equipment section, and aft shroud—provide a
benign thermal and physical environment, cloaked in darkness,
in which sensitive telescope optics and scientific instruments
can operate properly for many years. Excluding the aperture door
and solar arrays, Hubble is about 43-ft long and 14 ft in diameter
at its widest point. Altogether, it weighs about 25,000 pounds.

Hubble’s electrical power comes from two 25-ft long solar panels,
which are mounted like wings on the side of the observatory and
rotate to point toward the Sun. Six batteries, charged by solar
power when the Sun is overhead, provide power when the Earth
blocks the Sun. Astronauts replaced the solar arrays on two
occasions during servicing missions. The
present arrays are rigid panels of gallium
arsenide cells that were originally designed for
commercial communications satellites. They
are about 30% more efficient in converting
sunlight to electricity than the prior arrays.
When new, they generated about 5,700 W
of electrical power. In a single orbit around
Earth, the exterior surface of Hubble varies in
temperature from –150° F to +200° F.

The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, bagged in anti-static


nylon film to protect it from contamination, is shown un-
dergoing tests at the Goddard Space Flight Center.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Wide Field Camera 3 is lowered into its protective enclosure during a fit check
prior to launch.

Despite the harsh thermal environment, the interior of Hubble is


maintained within a narrow range of temperatures—in many areas
at a “comfortable room temperature”—by its thermal control system.
Temperature sensors, electric heaters, radiators, insulation inside
the spacecraft and on its outer surface, and paints that have special
thermal properties, all work in concert to minimize the expansion and
contraction that could throw the telescope out of focus, and to keep
the equipment inside the spacecraft at proper operating temperatures.
In addition to guiding the telescope, the fine guidance sensors are
used to make very precise measurements of the relative positions of
stars, which is essential for estimating distances to nearby stars or
masses of components of binary star systems.

The aft shroud has room for five scientific instruments.


Over the years, NASA and the European Space Agency
(ESA) have manufactured 12 scientific instruments
for Hubble. Each new generation of instruments has
brought enormous improvements to the scientific
capabilities of the observatory through advances in
technology. Many of Hubble’s discoveries with these
new instruments would have been impossible to
achieve with the instruments installed at launch.

The Wide Field Camera 3 instrument sits at the bottom of the large
Space Environment Simulator at the Goddard Space Flight Center
as technicians prepare it for an extended thermal-vacuum test.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review
Operating Hubble
Circling the Earth at an altitude of 360 miles, Hubble Space Telescope moves in what is known as
low-Earth orbit—a zone where the outermost traces of the atmosphere reach into the vacuum of
space. At this altitude, Hubble completes an orbit every 96 minutes, moving rhythmically from the
shadow of the Earth into the bright sunlight and then back again. The looming Earth blocks half
the sky from its vantage point, and interrupts most observations by blocking the line of sight to the
target. Without a highly optimized observing schedule, the complications of life in low-Earth orbit
would doom Hubble to a low observational efficiency—especially because the bus-sized telescope
can only rotate from target to target about as fast as the minute hand on a watch. Nevertheless,
careful scheduling keeps Hubble gathering light from stars and galaxies almost 50% of the time—
considerably higher than even the most optimistic predictions at launch.

It is the job of Hubble  controllers at the Space Telescope Science Institute and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to seamlessly
blend science operations and spacecraft operations 24 hours a day. Scientists and engineers at the Institute translate the
research plans of astronomers into detailed sequences of commands for the internal electronics, detectors, and mechanisms of
the scientific instruments. The preparations, carried out weeks or months in advance of the observations, also involve selecting
guide stars to stabilize the telescope pointing, and specifying the exact sequence and timing of the observations. Spacecraft
controllers work together to schedule Hubble’s communication with the ground, to load commands into the onboard computers,
to configure the distribution of electrical power from solar arrays and batteries, and to manage the data in the onboard computers.
The flight operations team at Goddard monitors every system on Hubble to ensure it is working properly. If one is not, ground
controllers can intervene to remedy the problem—if the onboard safing system has not already done so—autonomously.

Refurbished and ready for action, Hubble is seen here following its release from the Space Shuttle Columbia at the conclusion of Servicing Mission
3B in March 2002. Hubble’s next and final planned servicing mission is scheduled for autumn, 2008.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


The primary and secondary mirrors of Hubble form an im-
age (focal) plane whose light is shared by the instruments
and fine guidance sensors (FGS). Seen here are the loca-
tions of the instrument fields of view within the focal plane
as projected onto the sky (i.e., viewed from behind the aft
end of Hubble). The V2 axis of the telescope is the axis of
the solar arrays. The FGS fields of view are used to locate
and track guide stars. The scale indicates the size of the fo-
cal plane in seconds of arc.

In January 2007, the Advanced Camera for


Surveys (ACS), the instrument responsible for
many of Hubble’s most impressive images of
deep space, stopped working because of an
electrical short. By February, one part of the
instrument—the solar blind channel (SBC)—was returned to operation by reconfiguring the electrical system. The SBC
uses a photon-counting detector to study objects in far-ultraviolet light, while blocking out the visible- and near-ultraviolet
light they emit. The wide-field channel, known for its efficient collection of light and surveys of the universe, and the high-
resolution channel, capable of taking extremely detailed pictures of astronomical objects, could not be restored. A powerful
new camera is planned for the telescope soon, however. The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) is scheduled for installation
during the second half of 2008 as part of the final manned Hubble servicing mission.

Meanwhile, Hubble still has other significant science capabilities. The Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer
(NICMOS), the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2), and the Fine Guidance Sensors (FGS) are all working. Observations
that had been scheduled for the still-working instruments were moved, when possible, into the time slots left empty by ACS’s
breakdown. The Institute reviewed the unexecuted ACS programs to determine which observations might be transferred to
other instruments, most often WFPC2. Additional, competitively selected backup programs were created via a special “Call
for Proposals,” and these were also activated. These efforts made it possible to maintain a high observing efficiency and an
excellent science program for Hubble.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Over the past year, Hubble pursued its usual wide range of scientific programs, targeting objects ranging from nearby
planets, through stars and clusters in the Milky Way, to galaxies billions of light-years away. Some of the most technically
challenging observations in the present cycle were aimed at the largest planets in the Solar System, Jupiter and Saturn.

The International Geophysical Year was held in 1957, and was marked by the launch of the first Earth-orbiting satellites. Fifty
years later, 2007 was designated the International Heliophysical Year, and marked by a series of scientific projects designed
to study the Sun’s impact on space physics throughout the Solar System. As part of this campaign, more than 40 planetary
scientists banded together, under the leadership of John Clarke (Boston University), to design a program using Hubble to
monitor how solar weather affects conditions on Jupiter and Saturn. The proposed observations would use the ACS/SBC to
monitor auroral activity—expected to be related to the solar wind—on those two planets. Moreover, the team proposed to
coordinate some of those observations with the arrival of the New Horizons spacecraft at Jupiter in February 2007, while a
campaign of Saturn imaging would be coordinated with in situ observations of Saturn’s magnetosphere by Cassini in May
2007. Finally, the team proposed observations of Jupiter’s moon, Io, at least once per day during the 26 days for one entire
rotation of the Sun.
5SBDLJOH %BUB BOE 3FMBZ
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In a process used in the 14 previous cycles, Hubble


proposals were carefully reviewed by a peer committee of
other scientists in the Cycle 15 time-allocation process.
With a request for 162 orbits, the Clarke Jupiter program
qualified as a “large program” (more than 100 orbits), and
was considered by the Time Allocation Committee (TAC),
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Hubble data is transmitted to Earth through a NASA relay satellite, which


downlinks it to a ground station in White Sands, NM. From there, it
is forwarded to Goddard Space Flight Center for initial processing and
5%344 (SPVOE 5FSNJOBM
8IJUF 4BOET /. quality checking. Within minutes, it is sent to the Space Telescope Sci-
4QBDF 5FMFTDPQF 0QFSBUJPOT 4QBDF 5FMFTDPQF
$POUSPM $FOUFS 4DJFODF JOTUJUVUF ence Institute, where it is further processed, archived, and made available
(SFFOCFMU .% #BMUJNPSF .%
to the Principal Investigator who successfully proposed the observation.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


An artist’s rendition of the New Horizons encounter with the planet Jupiter.

made up of the chairs of the 11 review panels, 2 at-large members, and the TAC chair. The
committee reviewed more than 50 large programs, and recommended the Clarke program for
execution on Hubble. Working with scientists at the Institute, the proposal team developed a
Phase II proposal, specifying the exact sequence of color filters, exposure times, epochs, and
positions. A complicating factor in laying out this program was the necessity to avoid the South
Atlantic Anomaly, a concentration of energetic charged particles that affects a subset of Hubble
orbits each day. The ACS/SBC cannot be operated during such orbits.

For most observations, Hubble locks on distant “guide” stars in two of its FGSs, to steady itself
as it takes exposures. Because Jupiter and Saturn move constantly against the background
stars, Hubble had to continuously reorient itself to track the planets, changing guide stars, and
sometimes relying on just a single guide star.

Hubble observations are scheduled on a weekly basis. Individual observations are coded as
a series of commands that are uplinked and stored onboard Hubble, instructing the telescope
where to point, acquire guide stars, and initiate exposure sequences with specific instruments.
The first set of observations, taken in early January 2007, was acquired without problems.
Then, on January 27, 2007, the ACS suffered its serious electrical failure. Observations were
disrupted for almost three weeks while scientists and engineers from the NASA project and
from the Institute ensured that reviving the SBC would not result in irreversible damage to other
components of the observatory. With the New Horizons encounter with Jupiter approaching
rapidly, a series of observations was scheduled using Hubble’s oldest operating imaging camera,
WFPC2. WFPC2 offers some ultraviolet imaging capabilities, but neither the sensitivity nor

The center image was taken by Hubble more than 500 million miles from Jupiter, while the bottom frame was
taken by the New Horizons spacecraft’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager while just 16 million miles away.
Through their near-simultaneous imaging, the two missions collaboratively support the ongoing investigation of
the Jovian atmosphere, auroras, and magnetosphere.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Multiple simulations of each
Servicing Mission 4 flight
day are conducted at the
Space Telescope Operations
Control Center in Green-
belt, Maryland. These help
prepare the ground team to
handle nominal operational
scenarios, as well as the un-
expected.

the spectral resolution of ACS/SBC. Fortunately, ACS/SBC proved to be recoverable, and the Clarke program resumed
in mid-February.

As is standard, the images were temporarily stored in solid-state memory onboard Hubble, and later downlinked via a
NASA communications satellite to a ground terminal in White Sands, New Mexico. From there, the data were transferred
to Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and finally to the Institute in Baltimore, where the images were
stored in the Hubble data archive.

At the same time, an automatic e-mail message was sent to the principal investigators, informing them that their images
were available as fully processed data sets, reduced using the standard calibration pipeline, and as raw images for
customized processing, if desired.

The next batch of scheduled Hubble observations waits within the telescope’s computers for execution at prescribed
times. The coordinated efforts of many dedicated, detail-oriented people installed them in the queue. Many more people
will work hard to ensure the observations are completed successfully, and then to collect, process, archive, analyze, and
publish the results. Hubble, the flagship of NASA’s Great Observatories, has a first-class crew of scientists, engineers,
and operators, who keep her sailing towards the light, on a grand voyage of discovery.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review
Hubble News
Hubble observations have produced a regular stream of news about the universe. Shown here are a
few recent highlights. Details on these topics and many others can be found on the World Wide Web at
http://hubblesite.org.

Dark Matter • Astronomers using Hubble  have evidence of a ghostly ring of dark matter that formed long ago
during a titanic collision between two massive galaxy clusters. While dark matter is by definition invisible, astronomers
have long suspected its existence as the mysterious substance that holds together galaxy clusters—because such
clusters would fly apart if they relied only on
the gravity from their visible stars. Hubble
observations of galaxy cluster Cl 0024+17 reveal
how the total gravity of the system has distorted
the light of more distant galaxies behind
the cluster in a process called “gravitational
lensing.” This led to the creation of a distribution
map of the unseen matter required to produce the
observed distortions. In a composite published
this year, an image of the cluster made by the
Advanced Camera for Surveys was overlaid
by the distribution map of the invisible matter
(colored blue) needed to account for the observed
gravitational lensing data.

This rich galaxy cluster, cataloged as Cl 0024+17, is allowing astronomers to probe the distribution of dark matter in space. The blue
streaks near the center are the smeared images of very distant galaxies that are not part of the cluster. The distant galaxies appear dis-
torted because their light is being bent and magnified by the powerful gravity of Cl 0024+17—an effect called gravitational lensing.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


November 1, 2007
A. Dyer, Alberta Canada

November 4, 2007
HST WFPC2

Comets • Hubble has probed the


bright core of Comet 17P/Holmes, which,
to the delight of sky watchers, mysteriously
2 Million Miles brightened by nearly a million fold in a
45’ 24-hour period beginning Oct. 23, 2007.
Astronomers used Hubble’s powerful
resolution to study Comet Holmes’ core
for clues about how the comet brightened.

7,000 Miles
Although Hubble cannot resolve the

9.6”
nucleus, astronomers inferred its size by
measuring its brightness, deducing that the
nucleus’ diameter was approximately 2.1 miles—about the length of New York City’s Central Park. They hope to use the new
Hubble images to determine how much of the nucleus was blasted away during the outburst. Two other Hubble snapshots
spied three “spurs” of dust emanating from the nucleus and revealed an outburst of dust offset from the nucleus.

Exoplanets • Hubble’s capable instrument suite has allowed astronomers for the first time to study the layer-cake
structure of the atmosphere of an extra-solar planet. Known as HD 290458b (depicted in the artist illustrations below), the
planet completes an orbit around its host star every 3.5 days and is about the size of Jupiter. Unlike Jupiter, HD 290458b is so
close to its host star that its atmosphere is “puffed up.” Hubble discovered a dense upper layer of hot hydrogen gas where the
super-hot planet’s atmosphere is bleeding off into space. Astronomers used Hubble to analyze the starlight that filtered through
the planet’s atmosphere as it passed in front of its star to reveal the atmosphere’s structure and chemical makeup.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Planets • Astronomers have woven Hubble images of Saturn, its rings, and several of its moons into three movies. Each
movie highlights unique times in the planet’s 30-year orbit around the Sun. Two of the movies show the motion of several
of Saturn’s moons when the planet’s rings were tilted nearly edge-on to Earth and to the Sun. These edge-on alignments of
the rings occur roughly once every 15 years. Another movie presents a clear view of Saturn’s southern hemisphere when
the planet’s rings were at maximum tilt toward Earth. Hubble snapped only about a dozen images during each of these three
events, so astronomers created software to extend the photos into the hundreds of images needed for a movie.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Galaxies • The sharpest image
ever taken of the magnificent galaxy
Messier (M) 81 was released at the
American Astronomical Society
Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii in May of this year. A spiral-shaped system of stars, dust,
and gas clouds, the galaxy’s arms wind all the way down into the nucleus. Although
the galaxy is located 11.6 million light-years away, Hubble’s view is so sharp that it
can resolve individual stars, along with open star clusters, globular star clusters, and
even glowing regions of fluorescent gas. M81 appears to be undergoing a surge of star
formation along the spiral arms—possibly due to a close encounter it may have had with
its two neighboring galaxies: spiral NGC 3077 and starburst galaxy M82. Astronomers
plan to use the Hubble image to study the star formation history of the galaxy, and how
this history relates to the neutron stars and black holes seen in x-ray observations of
M81 with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Galaxy Clusters • Hubble, in collaboration with several other ground- and space-based telescopes, has
captured an odd looking spiral galaxy (shown in the upper left-hand corner of the image) apparently being ripped apart
by the gravitational field and harsh environment of its associated galaxy cluster. The galaxy is plowing through the
cluster at a speed of at least 3.5 million kilometers per hour after being accelerated by the enormous combined gravity
of the cluster constituents. As it speeds through, it is disrupted by ramming into hot gas that permeates the cluster.
The galaxy’s gas and stars are also pulled away by the
gravitational tidal forces exerted from the cluster’s core.
This finding may shed light on the mysterious process
by which gas-rich, spiral-shaped galaxies are thought
to evolve into gas-poor irregular- or elliptical-shaped
ones. The giant bright banana-shaped arc seen to the
right in the photo is a magnified and distorted image of
a distant galaxy that lies behind the cluster’s core in an
effect called gravitational lensing.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Celestial Sphere • Google, the company that hosts the popular
Internet search engine, has produced Sky in Google Earth through a
partnership with the Space Telescope Science Institute. With Sky in
Google Earth, a visitor can travel across the vastness of the night
sky, making tour stops and zooming in on all of the popular Hubble
images. By clicking on the provided HubbleSite logo, additional
information on a particular celestial object is passed to the viewer
from the associated Hubble press release.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Nebulas • In celebration of the 17th
anniversary of the launch and deploy-
ment of Hubble, a team of astronomers
released one of the largest panoramic
images ever taken with Hubble’s cam­
eras. It is a 50-light-year-wide view of
the central region of the Carina Nebula,
where a maelstrom of star birth and death
is taking place. The fantasy-like landscape of the nebula is sculpted by the action of outflowing winds and scorching ultraviolet
radiation from the monster stars that inhabit this inferno. In the process, these stars are shredding the surrounding material that
is the last vestige of the giant cloud from which the stars were born. The image is a mosaic of the Carina Nebula assembled from
48 frames taken with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. The Hubble images were taken in the light of neutral hydrogen.
Color information was added with data taken at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. Red corresponds to sulfur,
green to hydrogen, and blue to oxygen emission.

Quasars • These Hubble photos show shells of stars around a bright quasar known as MC2
1635+119. Quasars are classified by astronomers as a type of bright active galactic nucleus believed
to contain a central supermassive black hole. The shells’ presence indicates that a titanic clash with
another galaxy occurred in the relatively recent past. The collision is funneling gas into the galaxy’s
center, where it feeds the black hole. The accretion of material onto the black hole is the source of the
quasar’s energy. This observation supports the idea that
at least some quasars are born from interactions between
galaxies.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review


Globular Clusters • NGC
6397 (shown at left, taken by a ground-
based telescope) is an ancient globular
cluster containing a dense swarm of hundreds of thousands of stars located
approximately 8,500 light-years from Earth. The recent Hubble image at top
right reveals two categories of white dwarfs—the burned-out relics of normal stars—scattered among the other stars of the cluster.
One group is less than 800 million years old; the other between 1.4 and 3.5 billion years. Hubble astronomers distinguished
the younger from the older white dwarfs based on their color and brightness. The younger white dwarfs (surrounded in blue
squares) are hotter and therefore bluer and brighter than the older ones (surrounded in red circles). The astronomers were
surprised to find young white dwarfs located far away from the cluster’s core. They had assumed that the youngsters would
reside at the center and migrate over time to the cluster’s outskirts. The astronomers proposed that the cluster stars that burn
out as white dwarfs are given a boost by ejecting mass—like rockets do—that propels them to the edge of the cluster.

Supernovas • Twenty years ago, astronomers witnessed one of the brightest


stellar explosions in more than 400 years. The titanic supernova, called SN
1987A, blazed with the power of 100 million suns for several months following its
discovery on Feb. 23, 1987. Observations of the supernova made over the past 20
years by Hubble and many other major ground- and space-based telescopes have
significantly changed astronomers’ views of how massive stars end their lives. The
Hubble image on the right, from December 2006, shows the supernova’s triple-ring
system, including bright spots along the inner ring of gas surrounding the exploded
star. The spots are produced as shock waves of material unleashed by the stellar
blast slam into regions along the inner ring, heating them up, and causing them to
glow. The ring, about a light-year across, was probably
shed by the star about 20,000 years before it exploded.
The images below show how SN 1987A has changed its
appearance over time.

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Hubble 2007: Science Year in Review