The Sciences

Fly! Be Free!

Cosmic VarianceBy Julianne DalcantonMay 19, 2009 3:53 PM

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The astronauts have wrapped up repairs on Hubble, and released it back into orbit (as of 8:58 EDT this morning)! This mission was just astounding from beginning to end. I didn't get a chance to blog about it (because hey, it was sunny for once in Seattle), but Sunday's repair of STIS was another day of drama, with one of the astronauts literally having to rip a handle off the instrument to get access to the panel they needed to unscrew. (Oh, and get this -- they then had to peel off a g*ddm sticker to get at some of the screws! Oy.) Monday featured installation of new "outer blanket layers", which help insulate the telescope. Installation was smooth, except for an accidental head doink on an antenna by John Grunsfeld (which is the first sign that any of the people up there right now may in fact share genetic material with the likes of me). Phil has been doing a great job keeping up on the spacewalks on Twitter, if you want a more detailed blow-by-blow. The next phase is "Servicing Mission Observatory Verification" (SMOV), during which all the new instruments are put through their paces. This process is expected to take about 3 months, with early release images coming out in early September, with science programs expected to start running not long after. I'm getting myself prepared to be blown away! PS. Oh, one random bit from my trip to the launch. I got to meet Dennis Overbye. I felt a bit like an 11 year old girl meeting a Jonas Brother.

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