The Space Shuttle Columbia is tentatively set to soar into space on at 6:48 a.m. EST on February 28, carrying with it a new camera for the Hubble Space Telescope whose construction was guided by astronomers from the Johns Hopkins University's Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.
As a special treat for those who can't make it down to Cape Canaveral to see the launch, Hopkins' Physics and Astronomy Department has arranged to air the liftoff live on a big- screen television in the Schafler Auditorium of the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy. All are welcome to attend, and coffee and doughnuts will be served in the lobby. (For last-minute updates on whether the shuttle will go up as scheduled, visit sm3b.gsfc.nasa.gov/).
Holland Ford, professor of astronomy in the Krieger School, led the team that built the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), the new camera to be installed orbitally in Hubble by spacewalking astronauts. He estimates that it will increase Hubble's already formidable capacity for discoveries tenfold.
The ACS is one of several new or upgraded parts being installed by astronauts on this mission to Hubble, known in NASA parlance as Hubble Servicing Mission 3B.
In comparison to the Wide Field Camera II, another instrument already in use in Hubble, the ACS will provide two times the observational area, two times the resolution, and up to five 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 more information on Hubble, view the Hopkins news release online at www.jhu.edu/news_info/news/home02/feb02/advance.html, or pay a visit to the ACS team's site, acs.pha.jhu.edu/.
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