A Tweetup at NASA With the Hubble Repair Crew
During a week that included the 40th anniversary of the first manned mission to the moon, a solar eclipse, a shuttle currently docked to the International Space Station, and NASA's Twitter account surpassing 100,000 followers, I was fortunate to visit NASA Headquarters in D.C. The reason? A tweetup -- the first of its kind at NASA HQ. The discussion offered an opportunity to learn about the recent space shuttle mission, STS-125, which repaired and upgraded what is arguably the most important satellite ever in orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope.
Read more about the Tweetup and STS-125's mission to space...
The tweetup brought together around 200 people that follow NASA on Twitter. They traveled from all corners of the country and from at least as far away as Spain to attend the event with the STS-125 crew.
STS-125 launched on May 11 and returned on May 24. Over that time, five spacewalks were done to install new instruments on Hubble and repair older parts in order to extend its lifetime several more years. Though Hubble does not monitor weather here on Earth -- like many of NASA's satellites do -- it plays an extraordinary role in what we know about space.
Astronaut John Grunsfeld, who has performed spacewalks to repair and retrofit Hubble in three missions, said during the tweetup that, "Hubble is not just a satellite, it's about humanity's quest for knowledge."
NASA uses the Twitter micro-blogging service to share some of this knowledge. During STS-125, astronaut Mike Massimino tweeted his experiences while in orbit, including the following: "The Earth is so beautiful, it is like looking into paradise."
The replaced Wide Field Camera and new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph promise to enhance Hubble's already remarkable abilities. These additions will allow Hubble to see further into space and with more detail then ever before.
When asked about the repairs, STS-125 Commander Scott Altman remarked, "this is not a 19 year old telescope anymore." Based on additional comments by the crew, all current indicators point to successful repairs and upgrades.
Fortunately for us ground-dwellers, an IMAX camera was onboard. It's expected that the camera captured fascinating footage of space to be seen in the IMAX movie "Hubble 3D," planned for release by Warner Brothers in spring 2010.
The first images from the new-and-improved Hubble are expected in September.
| July 24, 2009; 1:00 PM ET
Categories: Photography, Science, Technology
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