Do It Right
So, the folks planning the final servicing mission to Hubble Space Telescope have announced that they will have to push back that mission because spare flight unit for the data handling system won’t be ready in time for the suggested February mission. Clearly they have to bring the unit up to date (modernize it) and that will take some time and testing to do. It cheers me somewhat to know that they won’t rush the spare to space, and I just hope that the Side B fix will hold until they can get up there to refit the telescope for its final few years of service.
Hubble’s a pretty complex set of machinery. It’s worth it to take the time to make sure things are right. After all, once the astronauts leave it behind after the mission, it’ll have to last a good number of years until JWST is up and running.
The good news for now is that the systems are up and running, instruments are being recalibrated after the Side B switchover, and science data is flowing.
Hubble is a machine close to my heart. I (along with Jack Brandt of the University of New Mexico), wrote Hubble Vision: Astronomy with the Hubble Space Telescope first published in 1995. Things moved along pretty quickly with the telescope, so in 1998 we wrote a second edition, called Hubble Vision: Further Adventures with the Hubble Space Telescope. In addition, I’ve written a couple of planetarium shows about the telescope — the second one is now a fulldome video called Hubble Vision. I’ll probably write a third documentary sometime soon to bring HST fans up todate in fulldome form.
All this was stimulated by my experiences in graduate school working as a small part of one of the instrument teams. I knew the telescope was turning out science, even after the spherical aberration was discovered. I wanted to tell its story and so Jack and I set out to do that in our books. The shows have been popular and I can see myself doing another one someday. There’s just something fascinating about the telescope and the visions of the universe it has given us.
By the way, if you’re a U.S. citizen reading this, please remember to vote on Tuesday. If you can take advantage of early voting, please do. It’s your right to vote, no matter WHO you favor. Please vote.