Launch Party Slated for Second HUT/Durrance Shuttle Mission By Emil Venere and Ken Keatley Low on Letterman? Feel Leno is lacking? Try a late night TV show with a definite Hopkins twist--but for just one night only. "Let's Do Launch: Hopkins in Space," a send-off party and live television viewing of the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, will be held Wednesday, March 1, beginning at 11 p.m., in Schafler Auditorium, Bloomberg Center of Physics and Astronomy, on the Homewood campus. The event is free and open to students, faculty/staff and the general public. Refreshments will be available. The centerpiece of the 16-day Endeavour space mission will be the Astro-2 Observatory and its Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope (HUT), which Hopkins research scientist Sam Durrance will operate from space as an Endeavour payload specialist. Nolan R. Walborn, astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute, will serve as commentator for "Let's Do Launch." Dr. Walborn is a guest investigator on the HUT project. Just prior to the launch, scheduled for Thursday, March 2, at 1:36 a.m., a videotape highlighting the accomplishments of Dr. Durrance and the HUT team during the 1990 Astro-1 mission will be shown. Guided tours of the Bloomberg observatory will also be offered (weather permitting). HUT is one of three ultraviolet telescopes included in Astro-2. The observatory will be housed inside the shuttle's payload bay, with scientists in space and on the ground operating the telescopes. Endeavour will orbit Earth for up to 16 days, nearly twice as long as the nine-day Astro-1 mission. HUT has been improved significantly for Astro-2, and it should be about three times more sensitive than the Astro-1 version. Those improvements, combined with refinements to other equipment and the mission's increased duration, may enable HUT scientists to gather up to 10 times more data than they did on the first Astro mission. HUT detects a portion of the ultraviolet spectrum that cannot be seen by other space instruments. Scientists will use HUT to pursue a wide range of objectives, from fundamental questions of cosmology to detailed studies of our own galactic neighborhood. The telescope's highest calling will be its search for the primordial intergalactic medium that theories predict was formed after the Big Bang of cosmic creation. More than two dozen faculty, staff and students are involved in the HUT project, which is headed by astrophysicist Arthur F. Davidsen, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. During the mission, the science team will work from the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. NASA is planning a series of mission media briefings on Thursday, Feb. 16, beginning at 9 a.m. The briefings will be aired on NASA Select Television, carried by some cable providers. Students and the public may view the briefings on a television provided by the Maryland Space Grant Consortium in its library, 201 Bloomberg. During the mission, information updates will be available on the HUTline, 516-6899. The university will update the recording as often as possible. Detailed information about HUT and Astro-2 is available on the Internet, through the HUT World Wide Web page. To access this page through Mosaic, use the URL. The address is: http://praxis.pha.jhu.edu/hut.html. The page provides information about the HUT instrument, the science team, science results from Astro-1 and plans for Astro-2. Many of the entries are available on both a popular and a technical level. Also, links through the HUT home page can be used to provide access to the NASA pages, and in particular to the NASA/MSFC "Mission Operations Laboratory" page, which will be providing real-time updates and information during the mission.
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