Image above: From the left are astronauts Michael J. Massimino, Michael T. Good, both mission specialists; Gregory C. Johnson, pilot; Scott D. Altman, commander; K. Megan McArthur, John M. Grunsfeld and Andrew J. Feustel, all mission specialists. Image credit: NASA
Veteran astronaut Scott D. Altman commanded the final space shuttle mission to Hubble. Retired Navy Capt. Gregory C. Johnson served as pilot. Mission specialists included veteran spacewalkers John M. Grunsfeld and Michael J. Massimino and first-time space fliers Andrew J. Feustel, Michael T. Good and K. Megan McArthur.
Atlantis’ astronauts repaired and upgraded the Hubble Space Telescope, conducting five spacewalks during their mission to extend the life of the orbiting observatory. They successfully installed two new instruments and repaired two others, bringing them back to life, replaced gyroscopes and batteries, and added new thermal insulation panels to protect the orbiting observatory. The result is six working, complementary science instruments with capabilities beyond what was available and an extended operational lifespan until at least 2014.
With the newly installed Wide Field Camera, Hubble will be able to observe in ultraviolet and infrared spectrums as well as visible light, peer deep onto the cosmic frontier in search of the earliest star systems and study planets in the solar system. The telescope’s new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph will allow it to study the grand-scale structure of the universe, including the star-driven chemical evolution that produce carbon and the other elements necessary for life. See: STS-125 Mission Information
The image at top left shows NGC 6302, a butterfly-shaped nebula surrounding a dying star. At top right is a picture of a clash among members of a galactic grouping called Stephan’s Quintet. The image at bottom left gives viewers a panoramic portrait of a colorful assortment of 100,000 stars residing in the crowded core of Omega Centauri, a giant globular cluster. At bottom right, an eerie pillar of star birth in the Carina Nebula rises from a sea of greenish-colored clouds.
September 9, 2009: NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is back in business, ready to uncover new worlds, peer ever deeper into space, and even map the invisible backbone of the universe. The first snapshots from the refurbished Hubble showcase the 19-year-old telescope’s new vision. Topping the list of exciting new views are colorful multi-wavelength pictures of far-flung galaxies, a densely packed star cluster, an eerie “pillar of creation,” and a “butterfly” nebula. With its new imaging camera, Hubble can view galaxies, star clusters, and other objects across a wide swath of the electromagnetic spectrum, from ultraviolet to near-infrared light. A new spectrograph slices across billions of light-years to map the filamentary structure of the universe and trace the distribution of elements that are fundamental to life. The telescope’s new instruments also are more sensitive to light and can observe in ways that are significantly more efficient and require less observing time than previous generations of Hubble instruments. NASA astronauts installed the new instruments during the space shuttle servicing mission in May 2009. Besides adding the instruments, the astronauts also completed a dizzying list of other chores that included performing unprecedented repairs on two other science instruments.An Early Observation Release