A Cassegrain telescope has a hole in its secondary mirror.
A Cassegrain telescope has a hole in its primary mirror; the secondary mirror reflects light through that hole, where it eventually hits an eyepiece, film, a CCD, or other detector.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, USA
Australia Telescope National Facility
Jodrell Bank Observatory, UK
Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy
Max Planck Institute of Radio Astronomy, Germany
VLBI Space Observatory Program
Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA)
Dominion Radio Astronomy Observatory, Canada (DRAO)
BIMA Array, Hat Creek CA
Institute for Millimeter Radio Astronomy, France (IRAM)
Nobeyama Radio Observatory, Japan
SETI Institute Online
Big Ear Radio Observatory, Ohio, USA
Square Kilometer Array Interferometer (SKA/1kT)
Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (Pune, India)
Hubble Heritage Shortcut
Main Hubble Space Telescope site
European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope
Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (Dark Matter Telescope)
South African Large Telescope
Hubble's Infrared Camera
United Kingdom Infrared Telescope images
Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS)
Spitzer Space Telescope
Chandra X-Ray Observatory
X-Ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton) Homepage
High-Energy Transient Explorer (HETE-2)
Lesson Plans Based on Hubble Space Telescope
Astronomy Technology Centre, Scotland, with links
European Space Agency missions
Master List of Observatory Sites Telescope gallery from William Keel
HST trailed in the sky from William Keel
Finding Space Station Alpha: Alpha's location on a map When you can see Alpha overhead
Discussion of Radio Interference at Observatories
first images from the spring 2009 Servicing Mission for the Hubble Space
Telescope were released on September 9, 2009.
JDGM (Sir John Dudley Gibbs Medley)
Some time ago my late Papa
Acquired a spiral nebula.
He bought it with a guarantee of content and stability.
What was his undisguised chagrin
To find his purchase on the spin,
Receding from his call or beck
At several million miles per sec.,
And not, according to his friends,
A likely source of dividends.
Justly incensed at such a tort
He hauled the vendor into court,
Taking his stand on Section 3
Of Bailey 'Sale of Nebulae.'
Contra was cited Volume 4
Of Eggleston's 'Galactic Law.'
That most instructive little tome
That lies uncut in every home.
‘Cease’ said the sage ‘your quarrel base,
Lift up your eyes to Outer Space.
See where the nebulae like buns,
Encurranted with infant suns,
Shimmer in incandescent spray
Millions of miles and year away.
Think that, provided you will wait,
Your nebula is Real Estate,
Sure to provide you wealth and bliss
Beyond the dreams of avarice.
Watch as the rolling aeons pass
New worlds emerging from the gas:
Watch as the brightness slowly clots
To eligible building lots.
What matters a depleted purse
To owners of a Universe?’
My father lost the case and died:
I watch my nebula with pride
But yearly with decreasing hope
I buy a larger telescope.
NASA's Swift satellite was successfully launched aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The satellite will pinpoint the location of distant yet fleeting explosions that appear to signal the births of black holes.
"It's a thrill that Swift is in orbit. We expect to detect and analyze more than 100 gamma-ray bursts a year. These are the most powerful explosions in the universe, and I can't wait to learn more about them," said Swift Principal Investigator Dr. Neil Gehrels, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Each gamma-ray burst is a short-lived event, lasting only a few milliseconds to a few minutes, never to appear again. They occur several times daily somewhere in the universe, and Swift should detect several weekly.
Swift, a mission with international participation, was designed to solve the 35-year-old mystery of the origin of gamma-ray bursts. Scientists believe the bursts are related to the formation of black holes throughout the universe - the birth cries of black holes.
To track these mysterious bursts, Swift carries a suite of three main instruments. The Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) instrument, built by Goddard, will detect and locate about two gamma-ray bursts weekly, relaying a rough position to the ground within 20 seconds. The satellite will swiftly re-point itself to bring the burst area into the narrower fields of view of the on-board X-ray Telescope (XRT) and the UltraViolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT). These telescopes study the afterglow of the burst produced by the cooling ashes that remain from the original explosion.
The XRT and UVOT instruments will determine a precise arc-second position of the burst and measure the spectrum of its afterglow from visible to X-ray wavelengths. For most of the bursts detected, Swift data, combined with complementary observations conducted with ground-based telescopes, will enable measurements of the distances to the burst sources.
The afterglow phenomenon can linger in X-ray light, optical light, and radio waves for hours to weeks, providing detailed information about the burst. Swift will check in on bursts regularly to study the fading afterglow, as will ground-based optical and radio telescopes. The crucial link is having a precise location to direct other telescopes. Swift will provide extremely precise positions for bursts in a matter of minutes.
Swift notifies the astronomical community via the Goddard-maintained Gamma-ray Burst Coordinates Network. The Swift Mission Operations Center, operated from Penn State's University Park, Pa., campus, controls the Swift observatory and provides continuous burst information.
"Swift can respond almost instantly to any astrophysical phenomenon, and I suspect that we're going to be making many discoveries which are currently unpredicted," said Swift Mission Director John Nousek, Penn State professor of astronomy and astrophysics.
Goddard manages Swift. Swift is a NASA mission with the participation of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council in the United Kingdom.
Swift was built through collaboration with national laboratories, universities and international partners, including General Dynamics, Gilbert, Arizona; Penn State University; Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico; Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, Calif.; Mullard Space Science Laboratory in Dorking, Surrey, England; the University of Leicester, England; ASI-Malindi ground station in Africa; the ASI Science Data Center in Italy; and the Brera Observatory in Milan, Italy.http://www.nasa.gov/swift
A new window to the universe was opened with today's release of the first dazzling images from NASA's newly named Spitzer Space Telescope, formerly known as the Space Infrared Telescope Facility.
The first observations, of a glowing stellar nursery; a swirling, dusty galaxy; a disc of planet-forming debris; and organic material in the distant universe, demonstrate the power of the telescope's infrared detectors to capture cosmic features never before seen.
The Spitzer Space Telescope was also officially named today after the late Dr. Lyman Spitzer, Jr. He was one of the 20th century's most influential scientists, and in the mid-1940s, he first proposed placing telescopes in space.
"NASA's newest Great Observatory is open for business, and it is beginning to take its place at the forefront of science," said NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Science, Dr. Ed Weiler. "Like Hubble, Compton and Chandra, the new Spitzer Space Telescope will soon be making major discoveries, and, as these first images show, should excite the public with views of the cosmos like we've never had before," he said.
"The Spitzer Space Telescope is working extremely well. The scientists who are starting to use it deeply appreciate the ingenuity and dedication of the thousands of people devoted to development and operations of the mission," said Dr. Michael Werner, project scientist for the Spitzer Space Telescope at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Launched Aug. 25 from Cape Canaveral, Fla., the Spitzer Space Telescope is the fourth of NASA's Great Observatories, a program designed to paint a more comprehensive picture of the cosmos using different wavelengths of light.
While the other Great Observatories have probed the universe with visible light (Hubble Space Telescope), gamma rays (Compton Gamma Ray Observatory) and X-rays (Chandra X-ray Observatory), the Spitzer Space Telescope observes the cosmos in the infrared. Spitzer's unprecedented sensitivity allows it to sense infrared radiation, or heat, from the most distant, cold and dust-obscured celestial objects. Today's initial images revealed the versatility of the telescope, and its three science instruments. The images:
Resembling a creature on the run with flames streaming behind it, the Spitzer image of a dark globule in the emission nebula IC 1396 is in spectacular contrast to the view seen in visible light. Spitzer's infrared detectors unveiled the brilliant hidden interior of this opaque cloud of gas and dust for the first time, exposing never-before- seen young stars.
The dusty, star-studded arms of a nearby spiral galaxy Messier 81 are illuminated in a Spitzer image. Red regions in the spiral arms represent infrared emissions from dustier parts of the galaxy where new stars are forming. The image shows the power of Spitzer to explore regions invisible in optical light, and to study star formation on a galactic scale.
Spitzer revealed, in its entirety, a massive disc of dusty planet-forming debris encircling the nearby star Fomalhaut. Such debris discs are the leftover material from the building of a planetary system. While other telescopes have imaged the outer Fomalhaut disc, none was able to provide a full picture of the inner region. Spitzer's ability to detect dust at various temperatures allows it to fill in this missing gap, providing astronomers with insight into the evolution of planetary systems.
Data from Spitzer of the young star HH 46-IR, and from a distant galaxy 3.25 billion light-years away, show the presence of water and small organic molecules not only in the here and now, but, for the first time, far back in time when life on Earth first emerged.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Major partners are Lockheed Martin Corporation, Sunnyvale, Calif., Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation, Boulder, Colo., NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., Boeing North America (now DRS Technologies, Inc.) Anaheim, Calif., the University of Arizona, Tucson, and Raytheon Vision Systems, Goleta, Calif. The instrument principal investigators are Dr. Giovanni Fazio, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Mass.; Dr. James Houck, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.; and Dr. George Rieke, University of Arizona, Tucson.For information about the Spitzer Space Telescope on the Internet, visit:
NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe today announced NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility has been renamed the Spitzer Space Telescope. It was named in honor of the late Dr. Lyman Spitzer Jr., one of the 20th century's most distinguished scientists.
Spitzer's pioneering efforts to put telescopes in space led to two successful space missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope. NASA also released the telescope's first dazzling observations.
"The Spitzer Space Telescope takes its place at the forefront of astronomy in the 21st century, just as its namesake, Dr. Lyman Spitzer Jr., was at the forefront of astronomy in the 20th," said NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Science Dr. Ed Weiler.
The telescope was launched August 25, 2003, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The Spitzer Space Telescope uses state-of-the-art infrared detectors to pierce the dense clouds of gas and dust that enshroud many celestial objects, including distant galaxies; clusters of stars in formation; and planet forming discs surrounding stars. It is the fourth of NASA's Great Observatories, a program that also includes the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.
The new name was chosen after an international contest sponsored by NASA. More than 7,000 names and supporting essays were submitted, with more than a third coming from outside the United States. Jay Stidolph, 28, a Canadian resident of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, submitted the winning entry.
Spitzer (1914-1997) was the first to propose, in 1946, placing a large telescope in space to avoid the blurring effects of Earth's atmosphere. He then devoted the next 50 years of his career to making this vision a reality. His efforts led to two successful NASA space telescopes: the Copernicus satellite and the Hubble Space Telescope. He also made significant contributions to the fields of stellar dynamics, the interstellar medium and plasma physics.
Spitzer served on the faculty of Princeton University for 50 years. He received numerous awards, including the Catherine Wolfe Bruce gold medal (1973); the National Academy of Sciences' Henry Draper Medal; the first James Clerk Maxwell Prize for Plasma Physics by the American Physical Society (1975); the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1978); the National Medal of Science (1979); and the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy (1985), the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for fields excluded from those awards.
In addition to being an outstanding scientist, Spitzer was an exceptional teacher, well regarded by his colleagues and students. He authored two popular reference books: Physics of Fully Ionized Gases and Diffuse Matter in Space.
Considered to be a man of incredible discipline, diligence and politeness, Spitzer also loved to mountain-climb and ski. He was a member of the American Alpine Club. His wife, Doreen Canaday Spitzer, four children and 10 grandchildren survive him.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.For information about the Spitzer Space Telescope on the Internet, visit:
The Space Infrared Telescope Facility, which NASA had referred to as SIRTF, has now been named the Spitzer Space Telescope after the late astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer, who served on the Princeton faculty for nearly 50 years and died in 1997.
"Lyman Spitzer was the father of space telescopes," said Neta Bahcall, a Princeton professor of astrophysics who worked closely with Spitzer for many years. Spitzer proposed the idea of launching a telescope into space in 1946, long before the technical capacity existed, and worked for decades to convince political and scientific doubters of its worth.
"It is very appropriate that this massive undertaking, which has been so successful and so revolutionary for our understanding of the universe, is commemorated with the name of Lyman Spitzer," said Scott Tremaine, chair of astrophysical sciences at Princeton.
The Spitzer Space Telescope is the fourth observatory to be launched under the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Great Observatories program. The first of the series was the Hubble telescope, which was launched in 1990 and observes the visible and ultraviolet portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. The others are the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (which re-entered the Earth's atmosphere on June 4, 2000) and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which enabled scientists to observe different aspects of the solar system, the galaxy and universe.
The infrared portion of the spectrum is particularly important for studying the birth of stars and galaxies, which are shrouded in dust clouds that block most visible light but not the infrared. It also will allow scientists to observe relatively cool objects, such as very small stars only slightly bigger than planets, as well as objects at the farthest reaches of time and space.
Spitzer was one of the world's leading scientists in studying the interstellar medium -- the gas and dust between stars -- and understanding how stars and galaxies formed from this material. The infrared telescope, which was launched in August after more than 20 years of planning, is expected to dramatically advance this line of research. Spitzer also was known as an outstanding teacher and as founder of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, which seeks to harness nuclear fusion -- the source of energy within stars -- as an economical supply of energy on Earth.
The idea of putting telescopes in space and avoiding the blurring effects of the Earth's atmosphere had captured Spitzer's imagination for five decades. In a 1946 paper prepared for RAND Corp., a defense consulting company, Spitzer wrote, "While a more exhaustive analysis would alter some of the details of the present study, it would probably not change the chief conclusion -- that such a scientific tool, if practically feasible, could revolutionize astronomical techniques and open up completely new vistas of astronomical research."
His idea came closer to reality with the success of the space program 20 years later, but still was not universally accepted. Spitzer and John Bahcall of the Institute for Advanced Study spent years crisscrossing the country and meeting with officials in Washington, D.C., to drum up support.
Bahcall said Spitzer's determination to see the space telescope project through was legendary in the astronomical community. In the early 1970s, Congress dropped funding for a space telescope from NASA's budget and Spitzer and Bahcall scheduled countless meetings with key representatives to save the project. Arriving for one appointment, they could not enter the Capitol building, which was roped off and surrounded by guards for the Nixon impeachment hearings.
"Lyman said, "You and I have suits and briefcases -- let's keep on talking and walking and try to ignore the policemen with guns,=" recalled Bahcall. As they passed the crowds and approached the ropes, Bahcall looked for guidance from Spitzer, who did nothing but nod as though engrossed in conversation. "I remember thinking, "I don't know if they are going to shoot us or not," said Bahcall. "Then a policeman rushed up -- and pulled the ropes aside for us to go through."
"So you can see he was a person who had amazing resourcefulness in any endeavor he undertook," said Bahcall.
After Hubble was launched, Spitzer participated in brainstorming ways to repair a flaw in the telescope's mirror, said Neta Bahcall. On the day of the repair mission, the Princeton astrophysics department arranged for the NASA television channel to be shown in Peyton Hall. "He and Doreen, his wife, would come and sit for the whole day and watch with the thrill of a little kid in a toy store," Neta Bahcall said.
Spitzer earned his Ph.D. at Princeton in 1938 and taught at Yale University before performing wartime service at Columbia University. He joined the Princeton faculty in 1947 as chair of the Department of Astrophysical Sciences. He founded the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in 1951 and served as its director until 1967. He received the 1979 National Medal of Science in addition to numerous other major awards.
The first images from the Spitzer Space Telescope were released Dec. 18. The infrared space telescope project is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.Further information about the telescope and its mission is available at:
SANTA CRUZ, CA--The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation awarded $17.5 million to the University of California for collaboration with the California Institute of Technology on a project intended to build the world's most powerful telescope. Coupled with an award by the Foundation to Caltech for the same amount, a total of $35 million is now available for the two institutions to collaborate on this visionary project to build the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). Their next step will be to work together to formulate detailed design plans for the telescope.
A 30-meter-diameter optical and infrared telescope, complete with adaptive optics, would result in images more than 12 times sharper than those of the Hubble Space Telescope. The TMT will have nine times the light-gathering ability of one of the 10-meter Keck Telescopes, which are currently the largest in the world. With such a telescope, astrophysicists will be able to study the earliest galaxies and the details of their formation as well as pinpoint the processes that lead to young planetary systems around nearby stars.
"We are very pleased that the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has recognized the strengths of the University of California and Caltech to carry out such an important project," said UC President Robert C. Dynes. "The giant telescope will help our astronomy faculty stay at the very forefront of that dynamic field of science."
"The University of California and Caltech will work in close and constant collaboration to achieve the goals of the design effort," said Joseph Miller, director of UC Observatories/Lick Observatory, headquartered at UC Santa Cruz. "We've also entered into collaborations with the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy, both of whom are in the process of seeking major funding."
According to Richard Ellis, director of Caltech Optical Observatories and Steele Professor of Astronomy at Caltech, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's award will provide the crucial funding needed to address the major areas of risk in this large project.
"This next phase is of central importance, because in the course of carrying it out, we will establish the fundamental technologies and methods necessary for the building of the telescope," Ellis said.
Miller and Ellis agree that the TMT is a natural project for UC and Caltech to undertake jointly, given their decades of experience as collaborators in constructing, operating, and conducting science with the world's largest telescopes at the Keck Observatory. The TMT design is a natural evolution of the Keck Telescope design, and many of the same UC and Caltech scientists involved in the creation of the Keck Observatory are deeply involved in the TMT project.
Following the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation-funded design study, the final phase of the project, not yet funded, will be construction of the observatory at an as yet undetermined site. The end of this phase would mark the beginning of regular astronomical observations, perhaps by 2012.The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation was established in November 2000, by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore and his wife Betty. The Foundation funds outcome-based projects that will measurably improve the quality of life by creating positive outcomes for future generations. Grantmaking is concentrated in initiatives that support the Foundation's principal areas of concern: environmental conservation, science, higher education, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility has switched on two of its onboard instruments and captured some preliminary star-studded images. The space observatory was launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on August 25.
The images were taken as part of an operational test of the infrared array camera. It will take about a month to fully focus and fine-tune the telescope and cool it to optimal operating temperature, so these early images will not be as sharp or polished as future pictures."We're extremely pleased, because these first images have exceeded our expectations," said Dr. Michael Werner, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif. "We can't wait to see the images and spectra we'll get once the telescope is cooled down and instruments are working at full capacity."
The most striking images are available on the Internet at:
The telescope's dust cover was ejected on Aug. 29, and its aperture door opened on Aug. 30. The spacecraft is operating in normal mode, and all systems are operating nominally. The team is very pleased with the rapid progress of the observatory and all of its onboard systems, said Project Manager David Gallagher of JPL.
In addition to the infrared array camera, the multi-band imaging photometer instrument was also switched on for the first time in a successful engineering test. The spacecraft's pointing calibration and reference sensor detected light from a star cluster. The third instrument, the infrared spectrograph, will be turned on later this month.These operations are part of the mission's two-month in- orbit checkout, which will be followed by a one-month science verification phase. After that, the science mission will begin a quest to study galaxies, stars and other celestial objects, and to look for possible planetary construction zones in dusty discs around other stars.
The panel, chaired by Prof. John Bahcall, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J. chartered by NASA earlier this year, submitted their report to the agency this week.
NASA's current plans are to extend the life of the HST to 2010 with one Space Shuttle servicing mission (SM 4) in 2005 or 2006. The plan is tentative pending the agency's return to flight process and the availability of Shuttle missions. NASA plans to eventually remove the HST from orbit and safely bring it down into the Pacific Ocean.
"NASA is deeply appreciative to Prof. Bahcall and the panel for getting this thoughtful report to us ahead of schedule," said Dr. Ed Weiler, NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Science. "We have a big job to do to study the panel's findings and consider our options, and we will respond as soon as we have time to evaluate their report," Weiler said.
The three options presented by the HST-JWST Transition Plan Review Panel, listed in order of priority, are:
"1. Two additional Shuttle servicing missions, SM4 in about 2005 and SM5 in about 2010, in order to maximize the scientific productivity of the Hubble Space Telescope. The extended HST science program resulting from SM5 would only occur if the HST science was successful in a peer-reviewed competition with other new space astrophysics proposals."
"2. One Shuttle servicing mission, SM4, before the end of 2006, which would include replacement of HST gyros and installing improved instruments. In this scenario, the HST could be de-orbited, after science operations are no longer possible, by a propulsion device installed on the HST during SM4 or by an autonomous robotic system."
"3. If no Shuttle servicing missions are available, a robotic mission to install a propulsion module to bring the HST down in a controlled descent when science is no longer possible."
In addition, the panel described various ways to ensure maximum science return from the HST if none, one or two Shuttle servicing missions are available.
"A lot of astronomers and NASA officials were astonished, when we said our report was ready just one week after our public meeting. This was possible because we reached unanimous agreement on our conclusions very quickly; remarkable when you consider there were six independent- minded scientists on the panel. Our secret is we did our homework very thoroughly. Many people helped to educate us," Bahcall said.The HST-JWST Transition Panel report is available on the Internet at:
From: David Gallagher
It is with great regret I am writing to let all of you know that we will be standing down from our current launch opportunity. It was decided today by NASA HQ that the risk related to delamination in the Graphite Epoxy Motors is significant enough to cause the SIRTF launch to be delayed. I am sure you are all as profoundly disappointed as I am and I want all of you to know that this is no reflection on the quality of the Observatory or the readiness of the entire Operations team. The decision is that we will launch in August following MER-B. As more information becomes available, I will update you. I thank all of you for your continued hard work.
The launch of the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) is scheduled on an uncrewed rocket, a Delta, from Cape Canaveral on August 26, 2003. Checkout of the instruments is to take about four months, and the new name for SIRTF is to be announced with the release of the first observations after that time.
NASA RELEASE: 02-171, September 10, 2002
NASA has selected TRW, Redondo Beach, Calif., to build a next-generation successor to the Hubble Space Telescope in honor of the man who led NASA in the early days of the fledgling aerospace agency.
The space-based observatory will be known as the James Webb Space Telescope, named after James E. Webb, NASA's second administrator. While Webb is best known for leading Apollo and a series of lunar exploration programs that landed the first humans on the Moon, he also initiated a vigorous space science program, responsible for more than 75 launches during his tenure, including America's first interplanetary explorers.
"It is fitting that Hubble's successor be named in honor of James Webb. Thanks to his efforts, we got our first glimpses at the dramatic landscapes of outer space," said NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe. "He took our nation on its first voyages of exploration, turning our imagination into reality. Indeed, he laid the foundations at NASA for one of the most successful periods of astronomical discovery. As a result, we're rewriting the textbooks today with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory and, in 2010, the James Webb Telescope."
The James Webb Space Telescope is scheduled for launch in 2010 aboard an expendable launch vehicle. It will take about three months for the spacecraft to reach its destination, an orbit 940,000 miles or 1.5 million kilometers in space, called the second Lagrange Point or L2, where the spacecraft is balanced between the gravity of the Sun and the Earth.
Unlike Hubble, space shuttle astronauts will not service the James Webb Space Telescope because it will be too far away.
The most important advantage of this L2 orbit is that a single-sided sun shield on only one side of the observatory can protect Webb from the light and heat of both the Sun and Earth. As a result, the observatory can be cooled to very low temperatures without the use of complicated refrigeration equipment. These low temperatures are required to prevent the Webb's own heat radiation from exceeding the brightness of the distant cool astronomical objects.
Before and during launch, the mirror will be folded up. Once the telescope is placed in its orbit, ground controllers will send a message telling the telescope to unfold its high-tech mirror petals.
To see into the depths of space, the James Webb Space Telescope is currently planned to carry instruments that are sensitive to the infrared wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. The new telescope will carry a near-infrared camera, a multi-object spectrometer and a mid-infrared camera/spectrometer.
The James Webb Space Telescope will be able to look deeper into the universe than Hubble because of the increased light- collecting power of its larger mirror and the extraordinary sensitivity of its instruments to infrared light. Webb's primary mirror will be at least 20 feet in diameter, providing much more light gathering capability than Hubble's eight-foot primary mirror.
The telescope's infrared capabilities are required to help astronomers understand how galaxies first emerged out of the darkness that followed the rapid expansion and cooling of the universe just a few hundred million years after the big bang. The light from the youngest galaxies is seen in the infrared due to the universe's expansion.
Looking closer to home, the James Webb Space Telescope will probe the formation of planets in disks around young stars, and study supermassive black holes in other galaxies.
Under the terms of the contract valued at $824.8 million, TRW will design and fabricate the observatory's primary mirror and spacecraft. TRW also will be responsible for integrating the science instrument module into the spacecraft as well as performing the pre-flight testing and on-orbit checkout of the observatory.
The Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., manages the James Webb Space Telescope for the Office of Space Science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The program has a number of industry, academic and government partners, as well as the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
NASA RELEASE: c02-s, July 9, 2002
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company's Missiles and Space Operations, Sunnyvale, Calif., has received a contract modification valued at $123 million from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., for work to be performed in support of Servicing Mission 4, the final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Servicing Mission 4 is scheduled for February 2004,
Under terms of the contract, Lockheed will be responsible for implementing the Servicing Mission 4 and for post- servicing-mission observatory-verification efforts to ensure the newly installed equipment is working properly and the telescope is ready to resume its scientific observations.
Lockheed and its subcontractors will be responsible for designing, building, testing and integrating the new systems into Hubble, including new batteries, new gyroscopes and a new Aft Shroud Cooling System. The new cooling system will carry heat away from scientific instruments and allow the instruments to operate better at lower temperatures. It also will allow multiple instruments to operate simultaneously, helping the science team maintain the program's high productivity.
Hubble's remaining original Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) also will be changed out during the flight. Hubble has three of these sensors, which are systematically refurbished and upgraded in "round-robin" fashion, one per servicing mission. By the conclusion of SM4 all three FGSs will have been brought up to optimum condition.
Lockheed also will be responsible for the integration of two new science Instruments to be installed on the SM 4 flight: the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and the Wide Field Camera Three.
PRESS RELEASE NO.: STScI-PR02-13
After more than three years of inactivity, the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) has reopened its "near-infrared eyes" on the universe, snapping several breathtaking views, from the craggy interior of a star-forming cloud to a revealing look at the heart of an edge-on galaxy. Peering into our stellar backyard, NICMOS peeled back the outer layers of the Cone Nebula to see the underlying dusty "bedrock" in this stellar "pillar of creation." The camera^Ňs penetrating vision also sliced through the edge-on dusty disk of a galaxy, NGC 4013, like our Milky Way to peer all the way into the galaxy's core. Astronomers were surprised to see what appears to be an edge-on ring of stars, 720 light-years across, encircling the nucleus. Though such star-rings are not uncommon in barred spiral galaxies, only NICMOS has the resolution to see the ring buried deep inside an edge-on galaxy. The camera then peered far across the universe to witness a galactic car wreck between four galaxies, which is creating a torrent of new stars. The colliding system of galaxies, called IRAS 19297-0406, glows fiercely in infrared light because the flocks of new stars are generating a large amount of dust.
To see and read more, please click on:
ESA Press Release, 4/30/02
Jubilant astronomers today unveiled humankind's most spectacular views of the Universe as captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's new Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). They also reported that Hubble is operating superbly since the March servicing mission and are looking forward to more pictures from the newly revived NICMOS camera.
According to an article in NATURE for 14 March 2002, NSAA plans to
return the Hubble Space Telescope to Earth in 2010 and to put it in
the National Air and Space Museum. The claim is that they need to
retire it to have the money for the Next Generation Space Telescope,
now scheduled for launch in 2009.
But some scientists are arguing that we should prolong the lifetime of Hubble past 2010. Currently, the last upgrade mission is scheduled for 2004. Prolonging the lifetime would mean that another upgrade mission should be scheduled in about 2007. At the moment, the extra expense seems unlikely.
reference: Tony Reichhardt, "NASA urged to play waiting game on Hubble's retirement," Nature, 416, 14 March 2002, p. 112.
In a week of spacewalking during March 2002, NASA astronauts made a variety of upgrades to the Hubble Space Telescope. The major scientific gain was the installation of the Advanced Camera for Surveys. This camera has a wider field of view than the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 and is several times more sensitive, so we should have even more and even better images. The WFPC2 will remain installed so that its different filter set can remain in use simultaneously with ACS. Also, ACS doesn't have the weird cut-out shape that WFPC2's CCD's have, so the photos will be able to look square.
Scientifically, the astronauts also installed a cooler to try to resurrect the infrared camera that ran out of coolant after its normal two-years of coolant lifetime. In addition, the astronauts installed new solar panels. They are rigid, so there should be less flexure as the Hubble goes in and out of daylight each orbit, losing observing time. They give 20% more power than the old panels, which were losing efficiency, so several instruments can remain on simultaneously. Also, a new wiring controller for the electricity had to be installed. But to do the installation, astronauts had to turn Hubble off, which hadn't been done in the 12 years it had had in orbit. So people were nervous that it wouldn't go back on, but that worry was, fortunately, unfounded. (It had been turned off and on various times in the lab before launch.)
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has been pushing the frontiers of astronomy since its launch in 1990. The orbiting observatory has watched a comet disintegrate as it passed by the Sun and pinpointed a massive star that exploded 10 billion years ago. It has provided a view of a bewildering zoo of young galaxies that existed when the cosmos was a youngster. It has measured the expansion rate of the universe and detected clumps of matter - perhaps the seeds of planets - swirling around nascent stars.
Now its time to expand Hubble's vision even further during Servicing Mission 3B, scheduled to begin Feb. 28, 2002, with the launch of the space shuttle Columbia. The mission will give the orbital observatory a series of midlife upgrades that includes the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), a new instrument package that will increase Hubble's already formidable capacity for discoveries tenfold, according to the leader of the team that built it.
"If you had two fireflies six feet apart in Tokyo, Hubble's vision with ACS will be so fine that it will be able to tell from Washington that they were two different fireflies instead of one," says Holland Ford, professor of astronomy in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University and leader of the team that built the ACS over a five-year period.
Ford thinks there's an outside chance that the ACS might even be powerful enough to obtain "direct evidence" - i.e., an image of some type - of planets in other, nearby solar systems. Although planets have been detected around many stars, all of them have been inferred through the gravitational wobbles they impart to their stars, rather than detected through a direct image of the planets themselves.
"I think that there is a chance" we'll be able to directly image a planet, says Ford, clearly tantalized by the prospect. "It's going to be difficult, for sure, but we're going to try it."
The ACS will replace the Faint Object Camera, which is the last of Hubble's original instruments. After catching Hubble with the shuttle's robot arm and securing it in the shuttle's payload bay, spacewalking astronauts will open the servicing doors on Hubble, remove the Faint Object Camera, and install the ACS.
Scientists and engineers who contributed to the ACS came from across the country, but are primarily found at Hopkins, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Ball Aerospace Corp., and the Space Telescope Science Institute. (A complete list of project staff is available at http://acs.pha.jhu.edu/general/personnel/sci-team/.)
The ACS weighs 870 pounds and is "about the size of an old-fashioned phone booth," according to Ford. Inside the ACS are three electronic cameras (the wide-field, high-resolution, and solar blind cameras), and a range of filters, polarizers, dispersers and other astronomical tools. ACS can detect radiation ranging from the ultraviolet portion of the spectrum, through visible light, to a portion of the spectrum known as the near infrared.
All the ACS instruments take advantage of new techniques and technology developed since Hubble's inception to deliver increased observing power at greatly reduced costs.
In comparison to the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, another instrument already in use in Hubble, the ACS will provide two times the observational area, two times the resolution and four times the sensitivity.
"This means a single ACS image will capture more objects in more detail and at a faster rate than before," says Frank Summers, an astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute.
For example, astronomers like to use Hubble to probe the distant reaches of the universe in a project known as a deep-field survey. If they probe to the same distances as previous surveys, researchers should be able to finish their work approximately ten times faster, reducing their observation time on the telescope from twenty days to just a few days.
ACS also contains an instrument known as a coronagraph that will allow astronomers to block out small bright sources of light in order examine the details of structures around the light sources. Ford noted that this might allow astronomers to search for warps and gaps in the disks of gas and dust surrounding nearby stars that may be early signs of planet formation. The coronagraph will also be very useful to astronomers who study quasars, powerful distant objects in the farthest reaches of the universe that are thought to be highly active black holes in the center of galaxies.
"We're looking forward to taking images of quasars, and seeing the structures that surround the quasars much better with the ACS's higher resolution and higher sensitivity, but especially with the ACS's ability to block the extremely bright emissions coming from the quasar," explains Ford.
Ford and other astronomers have many other ideas for using the ACS, including taking a closer, more detailed look at the weather on planets in our solar system, and no less ambitious a project than verifying the celestial yardstick astronomers have used for several decades to gauge distances around the universe.
"ACS has a set of filters that lets us take pictures in polarized light, which in effect can allow us to see around corners," says Ford. "We plan to use the polarizers to make some geometric measurements of distances using light echoes from supernovae. This will give us very important checks on how we bootstrap distances across the universe."
Noting Hubble's history of astonishing images and breakthrough discoveries, Ford says he's positive that the ACS will help keep Hubble "on the astronomical forefront that the public has come to expect of the Space Telescope."
More information on the Advanced Camera for Surveys is available at web
The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA), for NASA, under contract with the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).
Fort Davis, Texas -- McDonald Observatory staff are cutting garage-door-sized holes all around the enclosure of the 9.2-meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), and fitting them with giant steel "venetian blinds" called louvers. This should allow the HET, one of the world's largest telescopes, to operate at the same temperature as the outside air.
"You can't beat Mother Nature," said HET Chief Engineer John Booth. "This should go a long way toward allowing the HET to produce sharp astronomical images.
"The problem is heat. As the temperature drops outside at night, the walls of the dome keep the air inside warmer than the air outside," Booth said. "When the warm air and cool air mix, at the location of the dome opening, they bend the light rays coming into the telescope. This mixing creates what we call bad "seeing" -- it blurs the images of stars and galaxies we want to study."
So after consultations and tests, McDonald Observatory decided to "open up the dome," to allow wind to blow through the building. This is being done by cutting 15-foot by 17-foot windows in the bottom half of the building, called the ring wall. The first cut was made on January 8. After each opening is cut, a pair of louvers -- which looks like a huge venetian blind with four blades -- is lifted by a crane attached to the rotating portion of the dome. Each pair of louvers weighs 5,000 pounds -- about the same as a large sport utility vehicle. The first louver was lifted into place on February 1. In all, 26 louvers (12 pairs and two singles) will be installed at the HET by May.
This is the first stage in the $500,000 HET dome ventilation project. Smaller heat sources, including a few instruments on the telescope itself, will also be shielded or moved out of the dome. Later, smaller louvers will be installed in the upper, geodesic part of the dome.
Each day, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope collects enough information and images to fill five encyclopedias. Now, anyone with access to a computer and the World Wide Web can see the most exciting pictures captured by the world's first space-based optical telescope.
A new web site, "Hubble Space Telescope: New Views of the Universe," highlights the unique contributions to astronomy by this tireless observatory. The exhibition was developed by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), Baltimore, MD, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution.
The new Internet portal seeks to simulate the experience of visiting the Smithsonian exhibition, which is now touring the country. Support for developing this exhibition was provided by NASA and the Lockheed-Martin Corporation.
Since its launch in 1990, the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope has provided unprecedented views of the Universe. Using spectacular Hubble images, the exhibition and its companion web site take visitors on a fascinating exploration of Martian weather, colliding galaxies, the tumultuous life cycles of stars, very distant celestial objects, and even a comet colliding with Jupiter.
The web site shares many of the physical exhibition's features, such as videos, a roadmap of how long the light from different objects in space takes to reach us here on Earth and virtual reality activities, which gives users a true hands-on experience of the orbiting observer.
"Hubble Space Telescope: New Views of the Universe" is a special feature of HubbleSite, Hubble's official online home and the web's most comprehensive source of Hubble news, pictures, information, and educational resources. Both web sites were developed by STScI, which manages the science program for the Hubble Space Telescope and is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. for NASA, under contract with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency.
To experience the new "Hubble Space Telescope: New Views of the Universe," visit:
The Hubble's official online science web site is located at:
VLT astronomical images are now available. To provide an overview and to facilitate access, an index has been established and subpages have been set up by object category.
The index may be reached at:
Slides and viewgraphs of the Very Large Telescope Array are available at
(Reported by Linda Schweizer at Carnegie Observatories to Lori Stiles, UA News Services)
Pasadena, California -- "First Light!" suddenly rang through the air in the darkened and eerily tense control room, crowded with astronomers, engineers and telescope operators.
The phenomenon known as "first light" had just been achieved for one of the twin Magellan 6.5-meter telescopes of the Carnegie Observatories.
The Magellan Project is a partnership between the Carnegie Institution of Washington, the University of Arizona, Harvard University, the Massachusetts of Technology, and the University of Michigan. These partners have been designing and constructing the unique Southern Hemisphere telescopes since 1993.
"First light" is achieved only after all of the optical elements of a telescope are placed in the mount and aligned. On September 15, two days after stormy weather, the slit of the dome atop Cerro Las Campanas was opened, and the giant 6.5-meter (22-foot diameter) mirror was uncovered and pointed towards NGC 6809, a star cluster 20,000 light years away. The stellar light streamed for the first time onto the primary mirror, then the secondary, then the tertiary, finally making its mark on the CCD (charge-coupled device) camera. Magellan Project Scientist Steve Shectman was at the controls, tweaking the focus and adjusting the thermal system, when the first image was recorded.
The small, round images of the stars indicated an extraordinarily fine optical system that could take advantage of the unusually good "seeing" at Las Campanas Observatory.
"The completion of the telescopes is a phenomenal collaborative achievement," notes Dr. Augustus Oemler, Jr., Director of Carnegie Observatories. "They will enable us to observe faint objects near the edge of the universe that are seen far back in time."
"The telescope will completely change the way we do science," commented John Mulchaey, an astronomer at Carnegie Observatories. "We can now do studies that we couldn't even dream of doing just a few years ago."
Each partner of the Magellan Project has its own scientific agenda for the new telescopes. The large apertures will facilitate observations of distant, high-redshift objects and the uniquely wide fields mean that entire clusters of galaxies can be observed at one time. Consortium astronomers hope to understand our origins by studying the chemical history of the first stars in our Galaxy, as well as the first galaxies to form near the edge of the universe. They will search for objects orbiting black holes, investigate fiery galaxy collisions, and map out the large-scale structure of the universe.
Since the time of Galileo, the need to peer deeper into the universe has driven astronomers to build ever larger and more capable telescopes. Most of these telescopes are situated in the Northern Hemisphere, but only from the Southern Hemisphere can we observe the center of our own Galaxy and our nearest neighboring galaxies, the Clouds of Magellan. The clear, dark skies of the Chilean Andes are unsurpassed anywhere on earth. The Magellan telescopes will comprise the majority of the access to the Southern sky for U.S. astronomers.
A suite of instruments, including spectrographs and cameras, will help the astronomers explore the unknown with these new giant telescopes. One of the most intriguing new instruments is aptly named MAGIC and will enable astronomers to take advantage of "targets of opportunity," such as gamma-ray bursts and supernovae, which occur suddenly and without notice. MAGIC is being built at MIT's Space Sciences Laboratory.
The Magellan mirrors are a radical departure from the conventional solid-glass mirrors used in the past. They are honeycombed on the inside, and made out of Pyrex glass that is melted, molded, and spun into shape in a specially designed rotating oven. The paraboloid mirrors were cast and polished by the University of Arizona Mirror Lab.
Matt Johns, Magellan Project Manager, and members of the Magellan team will commission the telescope over the next few months so that it will be ready for scientific observations in February 2001. The Magellan Project is named after Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer who first circumnavigated the earth.
The 50-foot-high, 150-ton telescopes slew and point with the accuracy of a Swiss watch. In order to achieve the smooth, near-frictionless motion required for tracking astronomical objects, the telescopes float on a film of high pressure oil only two-ten-thousandths-of-an-inch thick. They are so well balanced that a tiny child pushing on the telescope could move all 150 tons.
"People don't think of Los Angeles as a location where scientific instruments of this magnitude are fabricated," according to David Chivens, one of the owners of L & F Industries, where the twin telescopes' alt-azimuth mounts were fabricated.
Science instrument commissioning will take a break in December when the dedication of the Magellan facility at Las Campanas Observatory is scheduled to take place
Back to top