Astronomers Set Priorities For Next Decade

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Dan CoeRSS Feed of this column.

I am a Caltech postdoc working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. While we all may be made of star stuff, we find that the universe is mostly made of something very different... Read More »

Astronauts blazed through their third of five spacewalks Saturday as they continued servicing the Hubble Space Telescope, installing the new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) and repairing the main science camera of the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) which has been disabled since February 2007.  Initial tests verified that both instruments were alive and able to communicate with ground control.

(2007 photo: Cariana Nebula imaged with ACS and CTIO; credit: NASA, ESA, N. Smith, STScI, AURA, NOAO, NSF)
Astronauts John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel successfully installed the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) Thursday during the first of five scheduled EVAs, or spacewalks, to rejuvenate the Hubble Space Telescope.

Hubble was "full of surprises" for the astronauts, and EVA 1 took an hour longer than planned, but the veteran space and ground crews overcame all obstacles and Servicing Mission 4 (SM4) remains right on schedule.  (See the full scheduled timeline in my previous post.)
They did a great job describing the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, but an awful job showing a picture of it.  "They" will remain nameless, as they otherwise put together a really great exhibit of images from the Hubble Space Telescope.  But in a panel where they talk about the Ultra Deep Field, they show pictures of something completely different: two galaxy clusters named Abell 1689 and CL0024.  They are beautiful examples of gravitational lensing which enables us to almost "see" dark matter, but not they are not the UDF.
Monday afternoon the space shuttle Atlantis blasted off into the Florida sky carrying with it the hopes and dreams of astronomers like me and people around the world.  Seven NASA astronauts have set out to repair the aging Hubble Space Telescope and upgrade it with new instruments.

The launch was picture-perfect from our vantage point at Space View Park in Titusville, Florida.  This may be the second shuttle launch I have seen in person, but it is the first I am old enough to remember.  (photo courtesy of David Radburn-Smith)