Astronomy

How was astronomical data meant to be handled on HST precursors?

How was astronomical data meant to be handled on HST precursors?

The first drafts for a large space telescope such as Hubble were made in the 60's, and the idea of a space observatory originated long before that. From Wikipedia:

In 1968, NASA developed firm plans for a space-based reflecting telescope with a mirror 3 m (9.8 ft) in diameter, known provisionally as the Large Orbiting Telescope or Large Space Telescope (LST)

Back then, CCDs weren't a thing yet (W. S. Boyle; G. E. Smith (April 1970). "Charge Coupled Semiconductor Devices". Bell Syst. Tech. J. 49 (4): 587-593.), and observational astronomy relied on photographic plates. How was the data meant to be collected and sent back to Earth in these projects?


Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a telescope in orbit around the Earth, named after astronomer Edwin Hubble for his discovery of galaxies outside the Milky Way and his creation of Hubble's Law, which calculates the rate at which the universe is expanding. Its position outside the Earth's atmosphere allows it to take sharp optical images of very faint objects, and since its launch in 1990, it has become one of the most important instruments in the history of astronomy. It has been responsible for many ground-breaking observations and has helped astronomers achieve a better understanding of many fundamental problems in astrophysics. Hubble's Ultra Deep Field is the deepest (most sensitive) astronomical optical image ever taken.

From its original conception in 1946 until its launch, the project to build a space telescope was beset by delays and budget problems. Immediately after its launch, it was found that the main mirror suffered from spherical aberration, severely compromising the telescope's capabilities. However, after a servicing mission in 1993, the telescope was restored to its planned quality and became a vital research tool as well as a public relations boon for astronomy. The HST is part of NASA's Great Observatories series, with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. Hubble is a collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency.

The future of Hubble is uncertain. Its stabilising gyroscopes are failing such that by today (2006) its redundancy was exhausted and with another failure, its ability to point will be compromised. These must be replaced by a manned service mission. In addition, without a reboost to increase the diameter of its orbit, drag will cause it to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere sometime after 2010. Following the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster, NASA decided that a repair mission by astronauts would be unreasonably dangerous. The organization later reconsidered this position, and, on October 31, 2006, NASA administrator Mike Griffin gave the green light for a final Hubble servicing mission to be flown by Discovery no earlier than May 2008. The repairs to the Hubble will allow the telescope to function until at least 2013, when its successor is to be launched.

Hubble's successor telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is due to be launched in 2013 and will be far superior to Hubble for many astronomical research programs. However, the JWST will only observe in infrared, so it will not replace Hubble's ability to observe in the visible and ultraviolet parts of the spectrum. JWST is a project of international collaboration between NASA, ESA and the Canadian Space Agency.


The Decade of Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics (1991)

Astronomy and astrophysics address questions about the origin and evolution of the planets, the stars, and the universe. In this century we have learned that the climates and weather patterns of planets in the solar system are driven by many of the same physical processes that create the earth's environment that stars form out of clouds of gas and eventually die either in quiet solitude or spectacular explosions that most of the common chemical elements are created in explosions of stars that stars group together in isolated galaxies that galaxies and clusters of galaxies stretch in sheets and filaments as far as the largest telescopes can see and that the universe itself was born in a violent explosion some 15 billion years ago. Most amazingly, we have learned that the laws of nature that humans have discovered on the earth apply without modification to the farthest reaches of the observable universe.

Yet each new answer leads to new puzzles. What kinds of planets form around other stars? What triggers the formation of stars in our own galaxy and in other galaxies? What powers the enormous bursts of energy seen in some galaxies? How did galaxies themselves arise in the primitive universe? Where can black holes be found, and what are their properties? What is the ultimate fate of the universe? These are a few representative questions that capture the

imaginations of astronomers and the general public and that stimulate young people to study mathematics, science, and engineering.

Discoveries of the 1980s

Observations with underground, ground-based, airborne, and orbiting telescopes during the 1980s produced important discoveries that advanced our knowledge in many areas of astronomy. The following is a selection of some of the more important advances and consolidations.

The theory of the origin of the elements in the &ldquoBig Bang&rdquo received support from both astronomical observations of stars and sensitive experiments in particle physics.

An orbiting satellite launched in 1989 began observing the relict radiation from the earliest years of the universe. Preliminary results indicate the need to revise existing theories of the formation of galaxies and clusters of galaxies.

Evidence gathered shows that the radiation from as much as 90 percent of the matter of the universe has so far gone undetected.

Quasars were found at extremely large distances and must have been formed when the universe was less than 10 percent of its present age.

Einstein's prediction that the gravitation of matter could bend rays of light found application in the discovery that galaxies can act as lenses, refracting the light from more distant quasars.

Surveys of large numbers of galaxies revealed that the universe is organized on larger scales than predicted by many cosmological theories.

Increasing evidence suggested the possibility of giant black holes in the centers of some galaxies and quasars.

An orbiting satellite surveyed the sky at infrared wavelengths and discovered disks of solid material, possibly the remnants of planet formation, orbiting nearby stars. It also found ultraluminous galaxies emitting 100 times as much energy in the infrared as at visible wavelengths.

Supernova 1987A burst into prominence in our closest neighbor galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. Subatomic particles called neutrinos from the supernova were detected in underground observatories, confirming theories about the death of stars and the production of the heavy elements crucial to life on the earth.

Neutron stars spinning at nearly 1,000 revolutions per second were discovered by their regular pulses of radio radiation. Signals from these objects may constitute the most stable clocks in the universe, more accurate than any made by humans, and can be used to search for gravitational waves and as probes of the dynamics of star clusters.

A deep probe of the interior of a star&mdashour own sun&mdashwas achieved through a technique analogous to terrestrial seismology, measuring pressure

waves on the solar surface. These measurements established the extent of the solar convective zone and the dependence of rotation speed on depth in the sun.

Experiments done with solar neutrinos hinted at new physics not included in standard textbooks.

The mass and radius of Pluto were determined from observations of its satellite, Charon. Other studies of Pluto revealed the surprising fact that this small, cold planet has an atmosphere.

Deuterium was discovered in the Martian atmosphere, and this isotope was used to measure the loss of water from Mars in the past.

The 1990s: The Decade of Discovery

The 1990s promise to be a decade of discovery. The first 10-m telescope, the Keck telescope in Hawaii, will come into operation early in the decade. This telescope and the others to follow will be the first very large optical and infrared telescopes constructed in this country since the epoch-making installation of the Hale 5-m telescope on Palomar Mountain over 40 years ago. The technological revolution in detectors at infrared wavelengths will increase the power of telescopes by factors of thousands. New radio telescopes will reveal previously invisible details at millimeter and submillimeter wavelengths. A technique called interferometry will combine optical or infrared light from different telescopes separated by hundreds of meters to make images thousands of times sharper than can be achieved with a single telescope. The four Great Observatories of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will view the cosmos across the infrared, visible, x-ray, ultraviolet, and gamma-ray portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. These instruments, orbiting above the earth's distorting atmosphere, will answer critical questions and may reveal objects not yet imagined.

PURPOSE AND SCOPE OF THIS STUDY

Charge to the Committee

The charge to the committee was as follows:

The committee will survey the field of space- and ground-based astronomy and astrophysics, recommending priorities for the most important new initiatives of the decade 1990&ndash2000. The principal goal of the study will be an assessment of proposed activities in astronomy and astrophysics and the preparation of a concise report addressed to the agencies supporting the field, the Congressional committees with jurisdiction over these agencies, and the scientific community. The study will restrict its scope to experimental and theoretical aspects of subfields involving remote observation from the earth and earth orbit, and analysis of astronomical objects earth and planetary

sampling missions have been treated by other National Research Council and Academy reports. Attention will be given to effective implementation of proposed and existing programs, to the organizational infrastructure and the human aspects of the field involving demography and training, as well as to suggesting promising areas for the development of new technologies. A brief review of the initiatives of other nations will be given together with a discussion of the possibilities of joint ventures and other forms of international cooperation. Prospects for combining resources&mdashprivate, state, federal, and international &mdashto build the strongest program possible for U.S. astronomy will be explored. Recommendations for new initiatives will be presented in priority order within different categories. The committee will consult widely within the astronomical and astrophysical community and make a concerted effort to disseminate its recommendations promptly and effectively.

The committee agreed that the primary criterion determining the order of priorities would be the committee's best estimate of the scientific importance of each initiative. In forming its judgment of scientific importance, the committee also took into account cost-effectiveness, technological readiness, educational impact, and the relation of each project to existing or proposed initiatives in the United States and in other countries.

In a letter to the committee commenting on the initial charge, NASA 's associate administrator for space science pointed out that NASA 's solar physics research program contains investigations of the sun viewed both as a star and as a power source for the solar system, and that many of NASA's solar physics missions have a strong coupling to in situ measurements, which lie outside the purview of this committee. NASA requested that, for these reasons, solar physics space missions not be prioritized together with purely astronomical missions. The committee concurred with this request, since it reflected the nature of the subject and of the funding sources, but considered that ground-based solar astronomy remained within its charge. Independently, the Solar Astronomy Panel established by the committee [see the Working Papers (NRC, 1991) of this report] elected to develop an integrated plan for solar research incorporating both ground- and space-based initiatives.

The committee surveyed the entire field of astronomy and astrophysics as defined by its charge and attempted to engage everyone in U.S. astronomy who had an interest in being heard. More than 300 astronomers, listed in Appendix C, served on the 15 panels whose separately published reports (Working Papers) contain important advisory material that was considered by this committee. An additional 600 or so astronomers contributed directly to this report by their letters, essays, or oral presentations at open meetings more than 15 percent of all U.S. professional astronomers played an active role in some aspect of this report. Distinguished colleagues from throughout the world contributed valuable essays and letters. The committee also profited from discussions with dedicated people in Congress and on congressional staffs, and with personnel

in the funding agencies, in the Office of Management and Budget, and in other executive offices.

In carrying out its charge, the committee describes prioritized equipment initiatives that reflect its best judgment about what facilities will most advance the central goal of astronomy: understanding the universe we live in. However, the committee recognizes that there can be no research without researchers, teaching without students, or observational progress without advances in technology. An infrastructure of students, researchers, and equipment and a vigorous program of theoretical research must exist to support new work, or the new initiatives will not succeed. This committee therefore prefaces its discussion of new initiatives with (1) recommendations for strengthening the infrastructure for ground-based astronomy and (2) a discussion of the need for a balanced strategy for space astrophysics.

Contents of This Report

This report presents a prioritized program for the 1990s that balances the development of new facilities with support for existing facilities and for the research of individual scientists. The present chapter, Chapter 1, summarizes the prioritized recommendations for new instrumental initiatives. Other recommendations appear in the context of specific discussions in the chapters on existing programs, on computing, on the lunar initiative, and on policy opportunities.

Chapter 2 describes some of the scientific opportunities of the next decade and Chapter 3, some of the most important ongoing programs. Chapter 4 presents a more detailed scientific and technical justification for the recommended new initiatives. Chapter 5 outlines the influence of the computer revolution on astronomy. Chapter 6 evaluates the potential role of observatories on the moon in the nation's Space Exploration Initiative. Chapter 7 discusses some important policy issues in ground- and space-based astronomy. Finally, Chapter 8 highlights some of the ways astronomy benefits the United States and the world. Appendix A defines some of the most common and important astronomical terms used in this report. Appendix B gives some basic statistics on the current demography and funding of astronomical research. Appendix C lists the scientists who served on the panels established by the committee to help carry out this decennial survey.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STRENGTHENING GROUND-BASED INFRASTRUCTURE

The highest priority of the survey committee for ground-based astronomy is the strengthening of the infrastructure for research, that is, increased support for individual research grants

and for the maintenance and refurbishment of existing frontier equipment at the national observatories.

By any quantitative measure, the research infrastructure has deteriorated seriously in the last decade: support for maintenance and refurbishment of facilities and for individual research grants in astronomy and astrophysics has declined as a fraction of the total budget of the National Science Foundation (NSF), as a fraction of the NSF's total astronomy budget, on a per-astronomer basis, and on the basis of real-dollar expenditures. NSF funding for astronomy has decreased for nearly a decade despite an explosion in research discoveries, a major expansion in the number and complexity of observational facilities, and a large increase in the number of practicing astronomers (see Appendix B). The consequences of this decline include the loss of key technical personnel, limitations on young scientists' participation in the research program, the delay of critical maintenance, the inability to replace old and obsolete equipment, and a lack of funds to pay for scientists to travel to observatories or to reduce data. The situation has reached critical dimensions and now poses a threat to the continued success of U.S. astronomy.

The committee recommends that the NSF increase its support for annual operations, instrument upgrades, and maintenance of national research facilities to an adequate and stable fraction of their capital cost. The NSF should include appropriate financial provision for the operation of any new telescope in the plan for that facility. The committee estimates that appropriate remedial actions will require increasing the operations, maintenance, and refurbishment budgets for the observatories now in existence by a total of $15 million per year.

The recommended annual increase will serve to repair the effects of deferred maintenance at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO) and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), upgrade receivers and correlators at NRAO to improve the performance of the Very Large Array (VLA) by a factor of 10, provide needed computational resources to deal with large-format arrays of optical and infrared detectors at NOAO, replace antiquated equipment at the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), and hire new technical staff to service millimeter receivers, infrared arrays, and advanced optics. If maintained for a decade, the increases will restore the infrastructure to a healthy working condition.

The committee recommends that individual research grants be increased to an adequate and stable fraction of the NSF's total operations budget for astronomy. In order to gather and analyze the large amounts of data that will become available with new instrumentation, to allow young researchers to take advantage of


Flawed mirror

Within weeks of the launch of the telescope, the images returned showed that there was a serious problem with the optical system. Although the first images appeared to be sharper than ground-based images, the telescope failed to achieve a final sharp focus, and the best image quality obtained was drastically lower than expected. Images of point sources spread out over a radius of more than one arcsecond, instead of having a point spread function concentrated within a circle 0.1 arcsec in diameter as had been specified in the design criteria Ε] .

Analysis of the flawed images showed that the cause of the problem must be that the primary mirror had been ground to the wrong shape. Although it was probably the most accurately figured mirror ever made, with variations from the prescribed curve of no more than 1/20 of the wavelength of light, it was too flat at the edges. The mirror was barely 2 micrometres out from the required shape, but the difference was catastrophic, introducing severe spherical aberration, a flaw in which light reflecting off the edge of a mirror focuses on a different point from the light reflecting off its centre. The aberration meant that images from the Space Telescope were only marginally better than the best images obtainable from the ground.

Origin of the problem

An extract from a WF/PC image shows the light from a star spread over a wide area instead of being concentrated on a few pixels.

Working backwards from images of point sources, astronomers determined that the conic constant of the mirror was 𕒵.0139, instead of the intended 𕒵.00229. The same number was also derived by analysing the null correctors (instruments which accurately measure the curvature of a polished surface) used by Perkin-Elmer to figure the mirror, as well as by analysing interferograms obtained during ground testing of the mirror.

A commission headed by Lew Allen, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was established to determine how the error could have arisen. The Allen Commission found that the null corrector used by Perkin-Elmer had been incorrectly calibrated, as a spot on a metering scale where an end cap had worn away was wrongly believed to be a valid scale. The null corrector had then been wrongly spaced by 1.3 mm.

During the polishing of the mirror, Perkin-Elmer had analysed its surface with two other null correctors, both of which (correctly) indicated that the mirror was suffering from spherical aberration. These tests were specifically designed to eliminate the possibility of major optical aberrations. Against written quality guidelines the company ignored these test results as it believed that the two null correctors were less accurate than the primary device which was reporting that the mirror was perfectly figured.

The commission blamed the failings primarily on Perkin-Elmer. Relations between NASA and the optics company had been severely strained during the telescope construction due to frequent schedule slippage and cost overruns. NASA found that Perkin-Elmer had not regarded the telescope mirror as a crucial part of their business and were also secure in the knowledge that NASA could not take its business elsewhere once the polishing had begun. While the commission heavily criticised Perkin-Elmer for these managerial failings, NASA was also criticised for not picking up on the quality control shortcomings such as relying totally on test results from a single instrument. Ζ]

Design of a solution

The flaw meant that Hubble could obtain data about as good as that achievable with a large ground-based telescope on a night of good seeing, but at a vastly greater cost. NASA and the telescope became the butt of many jokes, and the project was popularly regarded as a lol gay ass. However, the design of the telescope had always incorporated servicing missions, and astronomers immediately began to seek potential solutions to the problem which could be applied at the first servicing mission, scheduled for 1993.

While Kodak had ground a back-up mirror for Hubble, it would have been impossible to replace the mirror in orbit, or bring the telescope temporarily back to Earth for a refit. Instead, the fact that the mirror had been ground so precisely to the wrong shape led to the design of new optical components with exactly the same error but in the opposite sense, to be added to the telescope at the servicing mission, effectively acting as 'spectacles' to correct the spherical aberration.

Because of the way the instruments were designed, two different sets of correctors were required. The design of the Wide Field and Planetary Camera (WFPC) included four relay mirrors to direct light onto the four separate charge-coupled device (CCD) chips making up the camera, and so the relay mirrors on the replacement Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 could be figured to correct the aberration. However, the other instruments lacked any intermediate surfaces which could be figured in this way, and so required an external correction device.

COSTAR

The system designed to correct the spherical aberration for light focused at the FOC, FOS and GHRS was called the "Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement" (COSTAR) and consisted essentially of two mirrors in the light path, one of which would be figured to correct the aberration Η] . To fit the COSTAR system onto the telescope, one of the other instruments had to be removed, and astronomers selected the High Speed Photometer to be sacrificed.

During the first three years of the Hubble mission, before the optical corrections could be fitted, the telescope still carried out a large number of observations. Spectroscopic observations in particular were not too badly affected by the aberration, but many imaging projects were cancelled as the space telescope no longer gave decisive advantages over ground-based observations. Despite the setbacks, the first three years saw numerous scientific advances as astronomers worked to optimise the results obtained using sophisticated image processing techniques such as deconvolution.


Servicing missions and new instruments

Hubble was designed to accommodate regular servicing and equipment upgrades. Five servicing missions (SM 1, 2, 3A, 3B, and 4) were flown by NASA space shuttles, the first in December 1993 and the last in May 2009. Servicing missions were delicate operations that began with maneuvering to intercept the telescope in orbit and carefully retrieving it with the shuttle's mechanical arm. The necessary work was then carried out in multiple tethered spacewalks over a period of four to five days. After a visual inspection of the telescope, astronauts conducted repairs, replaced failed or degraded components, upgraded equipment, and installed new instruments. Once work was completed, the telescope was redeployed, typically after boosting to a higher orbit to address any orbital decay caused by atmospheric drag.

Servicing Mission 1

After the problems with Hubble's mirror came to light, the first servicing mission assumed a much greater importance, as the astronauts would have to carry out extensive work on the telescope to install the corrective optics. The seven astronauts selected for the mission were trained intensively in the use of the hundred or more specialized tools that would be needed. SM1 flew aboard Endeavour in December 1993, and involved installation of several instruments and other equipment over 10 days.

Most importantly, the High Speed Photometer was replaced with the COSTAR corrective optics package, and WFPC was replaced with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) with its internal optical correction system. In addition, the solar arrays and their drive electronics were replaced, as well as four of the gyroscopes used in the telescope pointing system, two electrical control units and other electrical components, and two magnetometers. The onboard computers were upgraded, and the telescope's orbit was boosted.

On January 13, 1994, NASA declared the mission a complete success and showed the first of many much sharper images. At the time, the mission was one of the most complex ever undertaken, involving five lengthy periods of extra-vehicular activity, and its resounding success was an enormous boon for NASA, as well as for the astronomers who now had a fully capable space telescope.

Servicing Mission 2

Servicing Mission 2, flown by Discovery in February 1997, replaced the GHRS and the FOS with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS), replaced an Engineering and Science Tape Recorder with a new Solid State Recorder, and repaired thermal insulation. NICMOS contained a heat sink of solid nitrogen to reduce the thermal noise from the instrument, but shortly after it was installed, an unexpected thermal expansion resulted in part of the heat sink coming into contact with an optical baffle. This led to an increased warming rate for the instrument and reduced its original expected lifetime of 4.5 years to about 2 years.

Servicing Mission 3A

Servicing Mission 3A, flown by Discovery, took place in December 1999, and was a split-off from Servicing Mission 3 after three of the six onboard gyroscopes had failed. A fourth failed a few weeks before the mission, rendering the telescope incapable of performing scientific observations. The mission replaced all six gyroscopes, replaced a Fine Guidance Sensor and the computer, installed a Voltage/temperature Improvement Kit (VIK) to prevent battery overcharging, and replaced thermal insulation blankets. The new computer is 20 times faster, with six times more memory, than the DF-224 it replaced. It increases throughput by moving some computing tasks from the ground to the spacecraft, and saves money by allowing the use of modern programming languages.

Servicing Mission 3B

Servicing Mission 3B flown by Columbia in March 2002 saw the installation of a new instrument, with the FOC (the last original instrument) being replaced by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). This meant that COSTAR was no longer required, since all new instruments had built-in correction for the main mirror aberration. The mission also revived NICMOS and replaced the solar arrays for the second time, providing 30 percent more power.

Servicing Mission 4

Plans called for Hubble to be serviced in February 2005, but the Columbia disaster in 2003, in which Columbia disintegrated on re-entry into the atmosphere, had wide-ranging effects on the Hubble program. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe decided that all future shuttle missions had to be able to reach the safe haven of the International Space Station should in-flight problems develop. As no shuttles were capable of reaching both HST and the ISS during the same mission, future manned service missions were canceled. This decision was assailed by numerous astronomers, who felt that Hubble was valuable enough to merit the human risk. HST's planned successor, the James Webb Telescope, is not expected to launch until at least 2018. A gap in space-observing capabilities between a decommissioning of Hubble and the commissioning of a successor is of major concern to many astronomers, given the significant scientific impact of HST. The consideration that JWST will not be located in low Earth orbit, and therefore cannot be easily upgraded or repaired in the event of an early failure, only makes these concerns more acute. On the other hand, many astronomers felt strongly that the servicing of Hubble should not take place if the expense were to come from the JWST budget.

In January 2004, O'Keefe said he would review his decision to cancel the final servicing mission to HST due to public outcry and requests from Congress for NASA to look for a way to save it. The National Academy of Sciences convened an official panel, which recommended in July 2004 that the HST should be preserved despite the apparent risks. Their report urged "NASA should take no actions that would preclude a space shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope". In August 2004, O'Keefe asked Goddard Space Flight Centre to prepare a detailed proposal for a robotic service mission. These plans were later canceled, the robotic mission being described as "not feasible". In late 2004, several Congressional members, led by Senator Barbara Mikulski, held public hearings and carried on a fight with much public support (including thousands of letters from school children across the country) to get the Bush Administration and NASA to reconsider the decision to drop plans for a Hubble rescue mission.

The nomination in April 2005 of a new NASA Administrator, Michael D. Griffin, changed the situation, as Griffin stated he would consider a manned servicing mission. Soon after his appointment Griffin authorized Goddard to proceed with preparations for a manned Hubble maintenance flight, saying he would make the final decision after the next two shuttle missions. In October 2006 Griffin gave the final go-ahead, and the 11-day mission by Atlantis was scheduled for October 2008. Hubble's main data-handling unit failed in September 2008, halting all reporting of scientific data until its back-up was brought online on October 25, 2008. Since a failure of the backup unit would leave the HST helpless, the service mission was postponed to incorporate a replacement for the primary unit.

Servicing Mission 4, flown by Atlantis in May 2009, was the last scheduled shuttle mission for HST. SM4 installed the replacement data-handling unit, repaired the ACS and STIS systems, installed improved nickel hydrogen batteries, and replaced other components. SM4 also installed two new observation instruments&mdash Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS)&mdashand the Soft Capture and Rendezvous System, which will enable the future rendezvous, capture, and safe disposal of Hubble by either a crewed or robotic mission. The work accomplished during SM4 is expected to render the telescope fully functioning at least into 2014, and perhaps longer.


Meet the Goan Astronomer Who Helped Discover the Farthest Galaxies in the Universe

“We want to know how the universe evolved, how we came to this earth and what is our purpose. In fact, some of the chemicals including iron, carbon, that are found in our body can be made only in the interiors of stars,” says Dr Vithal Tilvi.

B ack in 2013, Dr Vithal Tilvi was an integral member of the team led by Dr Steve Finkelstein of the University of Texas, Austin, in discovering the farthest known galaxy in the universe, estimated to be a staggering 13 billion light years away from Earth.

“Of course, it was a very exciting time being the first people in the world to discover and see the farthest galaxy in the universe. But I was even more excited being part of a collaborative team effort that contributes to generating new knowledge and advancing our understanding of the universe,” says the Goan astronomer, speaking to The Better India.

In astronomy, the unique thing is that by observing something really far away, we can also look back in time. Although light travels at a tremendous speed, the starlight, which carries information about this particular galaxy, reached Earth after traveling for 13 billion years. In other words, what we can see at present is actually a 13 billion year-old image of the galaxy. The importance of that discovery is the ability to see how the universe was in its infancy since we now know that it is about 13.8 billion years old.

To study this galaxy in detail, researchers employed the magnificent Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and other world class observatories on the ground. More than three years later in 2017, they discovered that this galaxy also contains a black hole at its centre.

Artist Rendition Of Galaxy Discovered in 2013. (Source: Dr Vithal Tilvi)

There are many galaxies with such black holes (an extremely dense object in space from which nothing can escape, not even light) at their centres, but there was something particularly surprising about this one.

“For the creation of a black hole, a lot of material is required in a small place to generate a very strong gravitational force. But how come there was so much material available at a time when the universe was in its infancy? We need a lot of material like stars falling into the black hole or something that will generate extremely strong gravitational force,” recalls Dr Tilvi.

From discovering a black hole, last month Dr Tilvi went onto lead another NASA-sponsored project which discovered a group of galaxies called EGS77.

This group of three galaxies is even further away at approximately 13.1 billion light years away, and currently the farthest galaxy group known.

These discoveries seek to answer questions like how did the universe evolve from almost nothing to one that contains billions of stars, galaxies and planets? From nothingness, how did we get here? How many galaxies, planets and stars were there in the beginning? What was their chemical composition? Were there chemicals in the beginning of the universe that could have given rise to life like on Earth? Were those chemicals already present when the universe was born?

“We want to know how the universe evolved, how we came to this earth and what is our purpose. In fact, some of the chemicals including iron, carbon, that are found in our body can be made only in the interiors of stars. When stars explode in supernova, these chemicals are thrown onto planets, which eventually make it into our bodies. In essence, we are made of stuff that are inside stars,” he says.

Thus, understanding the cosmos is not merely a scientific endeavour, but stands at the heart of comprehending who we are and what our place is in this universe.

An Artist’s Rendition of Black Hole Discovered in 2017. (Source: Dr Tilvi)

The Long & Winding Road

The discovery made in 2013 was a consequence of the largest HST project ever undertaken called the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS), which was carried out between 2010 and 2013 by a team of international scientists, including those from NASA. Its objective was to capture the deepest image of the universe.

When you take the deepest image of the universe, you can also look really far away and capture images of the faintest galaxy, for which you need the telescopes like HST. If you use the HST, and take a picture for 15 minutes you can acquire very crisp images of galaxies. Since this telescope is in space, the clarity of the images is extremely good.

“To discover this particular galaxy, however, we had to use HST for one month straight. It was a bit like switching on your mobile phone camera and continuously clicking pictures for one month. The HST took all the images and we used them to conduct extensive data analysis. When we took the images from HST, we had identified about 200,000 galaxies. Out of those 200,000, we scooped out 10-20 best candidates that were really far from Earth. Out of those candidates, we discovered one galaxy that was the farthest,” he recalls.

One can imagine the effort it takes to find 1 out of 200,000 galaxies. This entire time-consuming process, from planning, execution to data analysis took seven years. As researchers, they don’t really know when a new discovery will happen. But the observations they noted in making this discovery will also prove invaluable to other scientists in finding answers to questions like how stars and planets were formed.

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows the farthest galaxy GND_z8_5296 discovered in 2013 (shown in inset). (Source: Vithal Tilvi, NASA/ESA, STScI)

The Process and Execution

“There is a process we must follow for using the Hubble Space Telescope. We write a proposal which is sent to a selection committee managed by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScl), which manages the Hubble Space Telescope. If the science is of very high quality, these proposals get accepted and then we get down to doing the project,” he says.

To execute this project, there are multiple procedural constraints. The HST is a very busy facility because that’s the telescope astronomers from all over the world want to use.

It is occupied most of the time, making the process of acquiring data a challenge on the telescope. Researchers also had to use other ground-based telescopes in the United States to assist with their research. In order to even get even one night’s worth of data on the HST, you have to go through a process that could extend up to a year. Add the years it requires to take observations and conduct data analysis, and it’s not hard to understand why this process takes so long.

Even following the discovery in 2013, it took nearly 3.5 years to get the requisite data and conduct analysis that discovered the candidate for the earliest black hole in the universe.

This galaxy is known by its location and has not been named yet. In astronomy, researchers cannot really give names to galaxies just discovered and there is a standard issued by the International Astronomical Union, where they identify any galaxy or a planet based on their coordinates. The position of every given place in the sky is predefined just like latitude and longitude. For objects in space, researchers use Right Ascension and Declination in place of latitude and longitude that we use on Earth.

The advantage of marking location instead of a name is to help researchers better locate that same galaxy anytime in the future. Since there are so many galaxies in the universe, giving them names would not suffice and create confusion.

Latest discovery

Last month, a group of scientists including Dr Tilvi and a team from NASA discovered a group of three galaxies that were even further away than the one they found in 2013. They called this group EGS77 which is 13.1 billion years away, but this isn’t the most important facet of the discovery.

“As stated earlier, the universe back then was nothing like what we see today. It was entirely filled with what we call neutral hydrogen which acts like a fog and as a result light cannot travel freely. But we found that this group of galaxies is responsible for getting rid of this fog. As a consequence we now see the universe with much greater transparency. This is the most important result that came out of that discovery,” says Dr Tilvi.

“The young universe was filled with hydrogen atoms, which so attenuate ultraviolet light that they block our view of early galaxies,” said James Rhoads at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who was part of the research team. “EGS77 is the first galaxy group caught in the act of clearing out this cosmic fog.”

Inset shows artist rendition of transparent bubbles created by the trio of galaxies, currently the farthest group of galaxies ever seen. Thanks to these types of galaxies, the universe became more transparent to all light. Background image was taken using the Hubble Space Telescope. (Source: Vithal Tilvi, NASA, ESA)

“EGS77 was discovered as part of the Cosmic Deep And Wide Narrowband (Cosmic DAWN) survey, for which Rhoads serves as principal investigator. The team imaged a small area in the constellation Boötes using a custom-built filter on the National Optical Astronomy Observatory’s Extremely Wide-Field InfraRed Imager (NEWFIRM), which was attached to the 4-meter Mayall telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona,” says NASA in a recent statement.

Once again, the research team had to spend three to four years just taking down the observations and another three years to conduct data analysis. This project was meant to discover galaxies that are very far and essentially right at the beginning of the universe.

“When you look at galaxies that are very far away, it is a challenge to discover them because of the hydrogen fog. On average it takes about two to three years to discover one galaxy that is this far despite using the best technology at your disposal. We had to spend about three-four years, including 60 nights on large ground-based telescopes,” says Dr Tilvi.

Once researchers obtain the data, they take very sensitive images of all galaxies in their purview and then the process of data analysis begins.

Like the 2013 discovery, their goal was to find how many of these galaxies are really far and identify the best candidates located very far away. To accurately measure the distance from Earth, they use special instruments called spectrographs.

For this project, researchers approached the W. M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea volcanic mountain in Hawaii perched above the clouds at 16,000 feet above sea level, which has some of the best spectrographs in the world. For this project, they used the Multi-Object Spectrometer for Infra-Red Exploration (MOSFIRE) on the Keck I telescope.

Coming back to the discovery itself, it’s clear that this could have been possible only in the last 10-20 years because of the available technology like the HST.

“The knowledge we are generating today will be used decades into the future as well. At a more fundamental level, however, this knowledge will advance humanity. These discoveries are a result of massive collaboration between scientists with remarkable levels of expertise from different parts of the world. It also requires incredible coordination and teamwork, working together for 5-6 years at a stretch. It’s like a short term marriage,” he recalls.

Part of the discovery team at Keck Observatory in Hawaii. (Photo courtesy Steven Finkelstein)

Curiosity & Research

For Dr Tilvi, who grew up in a remote village not very far from Panjim city in Goa, there wasn’t one particular moment which inspired him to work in astronomy. It was a gradual process. But it all began with the stunning night sky he regularly saw at home.

“My advantage was that I grew up in a village where I could see the clear sky filled with millions of illuminating stars. When I went to a city like Panjim, I could only see bright stars because of light pollution. People grow up in the city thinking that there are only these many stars, whereas I grew up in a place where I could see countless stars. My curiosity was naturally piqued by these sights and I would ask questions about how many stars are there in the sky, how far away they are from Earth, etc. You wouldn’t ask the same questions growing up in the city. In fact, you could see sights like the Andromeda Galaxy with the naked eye in my village,” he says.

This regular practice of looking at the night sky carried onto college, where he and his friends would stay overnight in remote corners of Goa with their small telescopes. Even during his Masters in Electronic Science, he would regularly engage in amateur astronomy-related activities like marathons to discover the largest number of faint objects in the sky, recognise the stars and planets, among other things.

Dr Vithal Tilvi

But it never quite struck him that astronomy is where his passions lay and fortunately did not endure any external pressure to study medicine or engineering. The only thing he knew was his passion for research. Following his Masters, he worked for a few years at the National Institute of Oceanography in Dona Paula and National Antarctic Research Center in Vasco. Only then did he go to the United States for his PhD in astronomy and astrophysics.

After 15 years in the United States finishing his PhD in Astronomy at Arizona State University, Post doctoral at Texas A&M University and intensive research work, he came back to India late last year to join as a faculty at the State Higher Education Council of Goa.

The Council is recently set up to recommend Goa’s policy for higher education. Within the Council, he heads the Research Development Innovation Centre, and its primary goal is to raise the bar on research in all disciplines across various institutions in the state.

With his experience in working and conducting research in large facilities across the world and working with top experts from around the world, he thought that it’s time to use his expertise back home in India.

“See, there is no alternative to quality research. For higher education, we spend a lot of time on teachers and teaching methodologies. My experience in the States tells me that even if we hire the best teachers, without the requisite cutting-edge research we will not progress much. When a teacher goes to a class in India, he or she delivers textbook content that is more than 10 years old. Back in the States, the exact opposite happens,” he argues.

There the professor who teaches also engages in serious research, and their latest findings/content is immediately taught to students the next day, month or year. There is no large time lag in imparting knowledge produced by the latest research.

Dr Vithal Tilvi

“If we do not conduct our own research and generate our own knowledge, India will not progress academically like it should. Our goal is to encourage faculty across all disciplines to do their own research starting with small projects,” he adds.

Despite coming back and looking to improve academic research in Goa, he continues to collaborate with astronomers in the United States, and conducts his own research.


SPACE AND SPACE TECHNOLOGY

It is believed that universe was born about 13.8 billion years ago in an event called Big Bang. It is most prevailing cosmological model for birth of the universe.

Big Bang Theory: it states that at some moment all of space was contained in a single point of very high-density and high-temperature state from which the universe has been expanding in all directions ever since.

  • After the initial expansion, the universe cooled sufficiently to allow the formation of subatomic particles and later simple atoms.
  • The majority of atoms produced by the Big Bang were hydrogen and helium along with trace amounts of lithium and beryllium.
  • Giant clouds of these primordial elements (hydrogen and helium) later coalesced through gravity to form stars and galaxies.

Dark Energy:

  • Dark energy is an unknown form of energy which is hypothesized to permeate (spread throughout) all of space, tending to accelerate the expansion of the universe.

Dark Matter:

  • Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter that is thought to account for approximately 85% of the matter in the universe. Dark energy plus dark matter constitutes 95% of the total content of the universe.
  • It is believed that dark matter considered as the factors for unexplained motion of stars in galaxies.
  • The majority of dark matter is thought to be composed of some as-yet-undiscovered subatomic particles.
  • Dark matter does not appear to interact with observable electromagnetic radiation, such as light, thus invisible to the entire electromagnetic spectrum, making it extremely difficult to detect.
  • Dark matter interacts with the rest of the universe only through its gravity.

God Particle:

Higgs Boson or God particle is theoretically responsible for mass, without which there would be no gravity and no universe. So, called as “God particle”.

The Higgs particle was proposed in the 1960s by British physicist Peter Higgs as way of explaning why other particles have mass.

Discovery of Higgs Boson validated the standard Model of physics, also predicted that 60% of the time a Higgs boson will decay to a pair of bottom quarks.

Standard Model: is a theory of particle physics. It says materials are made up of 12 matter particles(known as Fermions). The other 11 particles predicted in models have been found. CERN used Large Hadron Collider(LHC) to find God particle.

Large Hadron Collider(LHC):

  • The LHC is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator.
  • It consists of a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets with many accelerating structures to boost the energy of the particles along the way.
  • LHC started operation in 2008, it is a Global collaboration project led by CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research).Its first research took place in March 2010&discovered the elusive (difficult to find, catch, or achieve) Higgs Boson in July 2012.
  • The LHC is situated underneath the earth’s surface at a depth of 175 metres on border between France and Switzerland near Geneva.
  • Purpose: LHC was built to study some of the fundamental particles (like proton, Higgs Boson etc.,) and how they interact and behaved as well as to find answers to other unsolved questions of physics like the dark matter.
  • Neutrinos are the second most widely occurring particle in the universe, only second to photons, the particle which makes up light.
  • These were first proposed by Swiss scientist Wolfgang Pauli in 1930.
  • Characteristics:
    1. They are elementary weakly interacting subatomic
    2. They have little mass or are nearly massless.
    3. They are no-charge particles that only interact with weak nuclear force.
    4. Least harmful of all elementary particles, as they seldom react with solid bodies.
    5. Gave astronomical information like beta decay of star or supernova .
    • In 2015, the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. Mcdonald for discovering neutrino oscillations demonstrating that neutrinos have mass.
    • There are three typesof neutrinonamely, electron neutrino (Ve),Muon neutrino (Vμ)&Tau neutrino (Vτ).

    INDIA-BASED NEUTRINO OBSERVATORY (INO)

    • INO is a multi-institutional effort aimed at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approximately 1200 m for Non-accelerator based high energy and nuclear physics research in India.It is situated at theni (Tamil Nadu ).
    • It is a mega-science project jointly funded by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
    • The initial goal of INO is to study Neutrinos.

    Why detect Neutrinos?

    • Neutrinos hold the key to important and fundamental questions on the origin of the Universe and the energy production in stars.
    • For Neutrino tomography of the earth, that is a detailed investigation of the structure of the Earth from core onwards. This is possible with neutrinos since they are theonly particles which can probe the deep interiors of the Earth.

    The INO project includes:

    1. Construction of an underground laboratory and associated surface facilities at Pottipuram in Bodi hills of Theni District of Tamil Nadu.
    2. Construction of an Iron Calorimeter (ICAL) detector for studying neutrinos.
    3. Setting up of National Centre for High Energy Physics at Madurai, for the operation and maintenance of the underground laboratory.

    Note: Japan is planning to build a Hyper-Kamiokande neutrino detector which will be the world’s largest neutrino observatory.

    Stars and their life cycles:

    Formation: Stars are formed in clouds of gas and dust, known as nebulae. Nuclear reactions(fusion- hydrogen to helium) at the centre (or core) of stars provides enough energy to make them shine brightly for many years.

    Lifetime: The exact lifetime of a star depends very much on its size. Very large, massive stars burn their fuel much faster than smaller stars and may only last a few hundred thousand years. Smaller stars, however, will last for several billion years, because they burn their fuel much more slowly.

    Phases: When hydrogen fuel that powers the nuclear reactions within stars will begin to run out, they enters into the final phases of their lifetime. Over time, they will expand, cool and change color to become red giants. The path they follow beyond that depends on the mass of the star.

    Small stars, like the Sun, will undergo a relatively peaceful and beautiful death that sees them pass through a planetary nebula phase to become a white dwarf, which eventually cools down over time and stops glowing to become a so-called “black dwarf” which emits no energy.

    Massive stars, will experience a most energetic and violent end, which will see their remains scattered about the cosmos in a enormous explosion, called a supernova. Once the dust clears, the only thing remaining will be a very dense star known as a neutron star, these can often be rapidly spinning and are known as pulsars. If the star which explodes is especially large, it can even form a black hole.

    Chandrasekhar Limit: of 1.4 solar masses, is the theoretical maximum mass a white dwarf star can have and still remain a white dwarf. Above this mass, electron degeneracy pressure is not enough to prevent gravity from collapsing the star further into a neutron star or black hole.

    The limit is named after Nobel laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, who first proposed the idea in 1931.

    • A black hole is an object in space that is formed after the death of a star(core runs out of fuel) and is so dense and has strong gravity that no matter or light can escape its gravity pull. Because no light can escape, it is black and invisible.

    Types of Black holes:

    Steller-mass black holes: small black holes, have masses about five to 20 times the mass of the sun.

    Super-massive black holes: which are millions to billons time more massive than the sun.

    Super-massive black holes are found at the centre of most galaxies. The super-massive black hole in our own galaxy, Milky way is called Sagittarius A*.

    Event Horizon:

    • The boundary at the edge of black hole is called the event horizon. This is “point of no return”, beyond which it is impossible to escape the gravitational effects of the black hole.
    • Anything that crosses the event horizon, falls to the very centre of black hole and squished into single point with infinite density, called the

    Event Horizon Telescope project:

    • EHT is group of 8 radio telescopes used to detect radio waves from space.
    • In 2019, Scientists from EHT project released the first-ever optical image( or shadow image) of a Black hole located in the center of galaxy Messier 87 in the constellation Virgo.
    • Sagittarius A* is the 2 nd black hole to get photographed.

    Nobel Prize in Physics, 2020 – “for the discovery that black hole is a robust prediction of general theory of relativity” to Roger Penrose and “ for the discovery of supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy to Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez.

    Gravitational waves:

    • Gravitational waves are the distortions or ‘ripples’ in fabric of space-time.
    • Gravitational waves are produced when objects accelerate, and travels with speed of light.
    • The strongest gravitational waves are produced by catastrophic events such as on merger of black holes, collapse of steller cores(supernovae), coalescing neutron stars or white dwarf.
    • Gravitational waves were first proposed by Albert Einstein, 100 years ago as part of the Theory of Relativity.
    • In 2016, scientists at Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) first detected the gravitational waves.
    • Nobel prize in Physics, 2017 – “for decisive contributions to LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves” to Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip thorne.
    • The gravitational waves can work as sirens to measure the expansion rate of the universe and to understand the origin and the future of the universe.
    • Hubble’s Law: the farther away galaxies are, the faster they are moving away from Earth ― accelerating expansion of the universe).
    • Hubble constant: a unit of measurement that describes the rate at which the universe is expanding.

    Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO):

    • World largest gravitational wave observatory for detecting cosmic gravitational waves and for carrying out experiments.
    • Comprises of two enormous laser interferometers located thousands of kilometers apart, each having two L-shaped arms of 4km length.
    • Two LIGO detectors are already operational in the U.S, at Livingston and Hanford.
    • The Japanese detector, KAGRA recently joined the international network.

    LIGO- India – InDIGO:

    • LIGO-India project is Indian Initiative in Gravitational wave observations, expected to be completed by 2025.
    • aims to move one advanced LIGO detector from Hanford to Maharashtra(Hingoli district), India.
    • Project is piloted by dept. of Atomic Energy(DAE) and dept. of Science and Tech(DST).
    • This project will help Indian scientists to be a major player in emerging research frontier of GW astronomy.

    Solar System and it’s parts

    The Solar system is the gravitationally bound system of the sun and the objects orbit around it.

    The planets of our solar system are divisible in two groups: Terrestrial planets and Jovian planets.

    Terrestrial planets or inner plants:- lie between sun and the belt of asteroids, Earth like planets made up of rocks and metals and relatively high densities. E.g. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars.

    Jovian planets or outer planets:- gas giants or Jupiter like planets, larger size and less dense materials, have thick atmosphere, mostly of helium and hydrogen. E.g. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune.

    KUIPER BELT:

    • The Kuiper Belt is a ring of icy rocks & dust bodies just outside of Neptune’s orbit, known as Kuiper belt objects or
    • Pluto is the largest known Kuiper Belt Object instead of 9 th planet of our Solar system.
    • There are bits of rock and ice, comets, and dwarf planets.

    Planet definition as per International Astronomical Union:

    1. Orbits around the sun.
    2. Has sufficient mass to assume hydrostatic equilibrium- a nearly round shape.
    3. Has removed debris and small objects from the area around its orbit.

    ASTEROID BELT:

    • Asteroids are remnants of planetary formation mainly composed of refractory rocky and metallic minerals and some ice, that circle the sun in a zone lying between Mars and Jupiter. The circular chain of asteroids is called asteroid belt or main asteroid belt.
    • The remnants of planetary formation failed to coalesce due to gravitational interference of Jupiter.
    • Recently, NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft briefly touched down on the surface of asteroid Bennu to collect rock and dust samples. The mission aims to complete by 2023.
    • Hayabusa2 – It is an asteroid sample return mission operated by Japanese space agency, JAXA.
    • a celestial objects, which are orphaned moons that have escaped the bonds of their planetary parents.
    • The researchers explain that the angular momentum between the planet and its moon results in the moon escaping the gravitational pull of its parent planet.
    • A new study finds that Earth’s own Moon is slowly spiraling away from the planet it may also end up as a ploonet in some 5 billion years.
    • Planets orbiting the other stars(outside our solar system) are called “exoplanets.”
    • Exoplanets are hard to see, they are hidden by the bright glare of the stars they orbit.
    • Scientists use Gravitational lensing and the “wobbling methods” to detect exoplanets.
    • Proxima Centauri b is closest exoplanet to earth and inhabits the “habitable zone” of its star.
    • Gravitational lensing: Light around a massive object, such as a black hole, is bent, causing it to act as a lens for the things that lie behind it.

    Ariel space mission:

    • Ariel (Atmospheric Remote sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large survey)- By European space agency(ESA), will be launched in 2029.
    • To study the nature, formation and evolutions of over a thousand exoplantes over a period of four years.
    • First mission of its kind dedicated to large scale survey of Exoplanets.

    GOLDILOCKS ZONE:

    • The ‘Goldilocks Zone,’ or habitable zone – ‘the region around the star where a planet could sustain liquid water on its surface’.
    • Our Earth is in the Sun’s Goldilocks zone. If Earth were where the dwarf planet Pluto is, all its water would freeze on the other hand, if Earth were where Mercury is, all its water would boil off.
    • Some Earth- size planets like TOI 700 d and Kepler-186f has been discovered in their Goldilocks zone.
    • Big chunks of rocks floats through space and orbit the sun, mostly found in main asteroid belt i.e. between Mars and Jupiter.
    • The biggest one is Ceres(940km wide), as twice as big as Grand Canyon.
    • Smaller rock pieces that breaks off from asteroid, it floats through interplanetary space.
    • Can be as small as grain of sand or as large as a metre across.
    • When meteoroid enters into earth atmosphere, it begins to burn up and fall to the ground.
    • This burning trail is known as meteor or ‘falling stars’.
    • Meteors and comets both create bright trails through night, but comets are made up of ice and dust, not rock – like a gaint dirty snowball.
    • If a meteoroid rock doesn’t completely burn up as it falls to Earth– the rock left behind is called meteorite.

    Asteroids, Meteoroid, Meteor and Meteorite.

    • are frozen leftovers from the formation of the solar system composed of dust, rock and ices, ranges from few miles to tens of miles wide.
    • Orbits closer to the sun, they heat up and spew gases and dust into a glowing head visible in atmosphere.
    • Comets have highly elliptical orbits, unlike planets which have near-circular orbits.

    Space Debris:

    • Refers to a natural debris(asteroids, comets and meteoroides) found in solar system or debris from artificially created objects( artificial satellites and old rockets) in space, especially earth orbit.
    • Space debris can be hazardous to spacecrafts and satellites.
    • Space debris tracked by radar and optical detectors.
    • Kessler Syndrome: is a possible effect that if one satellite produces debris that hot another satellite, this will create a chain reaction that will obliterate every orbiting object in low earth orbit(LEO), and thus creating a thick cloud of white dots travelling at high speed.
    • Project Netra: an early warning system by ISRO in space to detect debris and other hazards to Indian satellites.

    INDIAN SPACE RESEARCH ORGANISATION (ISRO)

    • Nodal space research agency of Government of India
    • Founded on 15 th August, 1969. Headquarter – Bengaluru, Karnataka
    • Managed by Department of Space (DOS), which reports directly to PM.

    ISRO Commercial Arms:

    Indian National space, Promotion & Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe):

    • Under Department of space to encourage, promote and hand hold the private sector for their participation in space sector.
    • Private players will also be able to use ISRO infrastructure through IN-SPACe.

    NewSpace India Limited(NSIL):

    • A public sector undertaking (PSU) under the department of Space.
    • It will commercially exploit the research and development work of space agency,
    • Co-produce PSLV and launch satellite through SSLVs.
    • Antrix Ltd is another PSU under dept.of Space, that acts as a commercial arms of ISRO and markets the products and services of ISRO.
    • NSIL differs from Antrix Ltd. Antrix will handle ISRO’s commercial deals for satellites and launch vehicles with foreign customers.
    • NSIL will deal with capacity building of local industry for space manufacturing.

    ISRO INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION:

    • Chandrayaan-1: ISRO maiden mission to Moon, Chandrayaan-1 was the joint mission of ISRO-NASA, to discovery of water molecules on the Moon surface.
    • MEGHA- TROPIQUES: The Indo-French joint satellite mission launched in 2011 for the study of tropical atmosphere and climate related aspects such as monsoons, cyclones etc.
    • Saral(Satellite for ALTIKA and ARGOS): Joint mission with France for studying ocean from space using altimetry launched in 2013.
    • NISAR: NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, joint satellite mission for earth sciences studies.
    • Unnati: ISRO 8-week capacity building progamme on nano satellite development, as an initiative of UNISPACE+50, participants from several countries trained successfully.

    TYPES OF ORBITS

    • Satellites are generally characterized by the distance from the earth at which they revolve and on basis of application of the Earth.
    • On basis of height-
      1. LEO Satellite (Lower Earth Orbit)
      2. MEO Satellite (Middle Earth Orbit)
      • On basis of application-
        1. Geo- Synchronous Earth Orbit
        2. Geo- Stationary Earth Orbit

        Low Earth Orbit (LEO)

        · LEO is commonly used for communication and remote sensing satellite systems, as well as the International Space Station (400km) and Hubble Space Telescope (560km).

        Geosynchronous Orbit (GSO) & Geostationary Orbit (GEO)

        · Objects in GSO have an orbital speed that matches the Earth’s rotation, yielding a consistent position over a single longitude.

        · An orbit is called sun-synchronous when the angle between the line joining the centre of the Earth and the satellite and the Sun is constant throughout the orbit.

        · It enables the on-board camera to take images of the earth under the same sun-illumination conditions during each of the repeated visits

        · The idea of a geosynchronous orbit for communications spacecraft was first popularized by science fiction author Sir Arthur C. Clarke in 1945, so it is sometimes called the Clarke orbit.

        · GEO is a kind of GSO. It matches the planet’s rotation, but GEO objects only orbit Earth’s equator, and from the ground perspective, they appear in a fixed position in the sky.

        Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO)

        · To attain geosynchronous (and also geostationary) Earth orbits, a spacecraft is first launched into an elliptical orbit with an apoapsis altitude in the neighbourhood of 37,000 km. This is called a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).

        Polar Orbit

        · Polar orbits are 90-degree inclination orbits, useful for spacecraft that carry out mapping or surveillance operations.

        TYPES OF SATELLITES

        A satellite is a moon, planet or machine that orbits a planet or star. Thousands of artificial, or man-made, satellites orbit Earth.

        Earth Observation

        LAUNCH VEHICLE TECHNOLOGY

        • Launchers or Launch Vehicles are used to carry spacecraft to space.
        • Historic launchers: SLV, Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV)
        • India has two operational launchers: Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
        • GSLV with indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage has enabled the launching up to 2 tons class of communication satellites.
        • The next variant of GSLV is GSLV Mk III, with indigenous high thrust cryogenic engine and stage, having the capability of launching 4 tons class of communication satellites.
        • Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, located in Thiruvananthapuram, is responsible for the design and development of launch vehicles.
        • Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre and ISRO Propulsion Complex, located at Valiamala and Mahendragiri respectively, develop the liquid and cryogenic stages for these launch vehicles.
        • Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, is the spaceport of India and is responsible for the integration of launchers. It houses two operational launch pads from where all GSLV and PSLV flights take place.

        SATELLITE LAUNCH VEHICLE-3 (SLV-3):

        • SLV-3was India’s first experimental satellite launch vehicle.
        • Which was an all solid, four-stage vehicle
        • Capable of placing 40 kg payloads in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
        • First successful launch: Rohini Satellite on 18/July/1980 from Sriharikota.
        • This made India the sixth member of an exclusive club of space-faring nation’s.

        AUGMENTED SATELLITE LAUNCH VEHICLE (ASLV):

        • Designed to augment the payload capacity to 150 kg, thrice that of SLV-3, for Low Earth Orbits (LEO) in 1987.
        • ASLV proved to be a low-cost intermediate vehicle to demonstrate and validate critical technologies.

        POLAR SATELLITE LAUNCH VEHICLE (PSLV):

        • PSLV is the third generation launch vehicle of India, operationalized in 1994.
        • It is the first Indian launch vehicle to be equipped with liquid stages.
        • PSLV is a 4-stage launch vehicle that uses an alternate combination of liquid and solid-fueled rocket stages.
        • 1st & 3rd stages are solid-fueled.
        • 2nd & 4th stages are liquid-fueled.
        • PSLV emerged as the reliable and versatile workhorse launch vehicle of India with 39 consecutively successful missions by June 2017.
        • Primarily used to launch remote sensing satellite.
        • PSLV can deliver payloads of up to:
          1. 3,250kg to LEO (Low Earth Orbit)
          2. 1600 kg to SSO (Sun Synchronous orbit)
          3. 1400 kg to GTO (Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit)
          • Most famous launches by the PSLV:
            1. Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 and
            2. Mangalyaan/Mars Orbiter Mission in 2013.
            3. PSLV-C37 launched 104 satellites on February 15, 2017, the highest number of satellites launched in a single flight so far
            • Currently, PSLV rockets have 4 variants:
              1. PSLV-CA (core alone)
              2. PSLV-DL (Dual strap-on motors)
              3. PSLV-QL (4 strap-on motors)
              4. PSLV-XL (6 strap-on motors)

              GEOSYNCHRONOUS SATELLITE LAUNCH VEHICLE (GSLV):

              • GSLV is a 3-stage Launch vehicle with solid fuel in the 1st stage, liquid in the 2nd stage and cryogenic in the 3rd stage.
              • It was developed primarily to launch communication satellites (INSAT Series) of 2.5-tonne class in Geostationary Transfer Orbit and about 4.5 tons class in Low Earth Orbit.
              • This is the largest launch vehicle developed by India, which is currently in operation.
              • This fourth-generation launch vehicle is a three-stage vehicle with four liquid strap-ons.
              • The indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) forms the third stage of GSLV Mk II.
              • Liftoff mass: 4.14 tones.

              GSLV Mk III:

              • This is a 3-stage heavy-lift rocket with an indigenous cryogenic engine in the 3rd stage.
              • GSLV Mk III (ISRO’s Fat boy) is designed to carry 4-ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is about twice the capability of the GSLV Mk II.
              • Most famous launches: injected Chandrayaan-2, India’s second Lunar Mission, into Earth Parking Orbit on July 22, 2019, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Srihari kota.
              • Further, India’s first human space flight Gaganyaan to be launched using GSLV Mk III in 2022.

              SOUNDING ROCKETS:

              • These are one or two-stage solid propellant rockets used for probing the upper atmospheric regions and for space research.
              • They also serve as easily affordable platforms to test or prove prototypes of new components or subsystems intended for use in launch vehicles and satellites.
              • The launch of the first sounding rocket from Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on 21 November 1963, marked the beginning of the Indian Space Programme.
              • RH-75, with a diameter of 75mm was the first truly Indian sounding rocket.

              SMALL SATELLITE LAUNCH VEHICLE (SSLV):

              • Designed by ISRO’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, to launch payload capacity of 500 kg to Low Earth orbit&300 kg to Sun-synchronous orbit for launching small satellites.
              • Objective: to commercially launch small satellites at a lower price and higher launch rate as compared to PSLV.
              • Unlike the PSLV and GSLV, the SSLV can be assembled both vertically and horizontally.
              • The first three stages of the vehicle will use a solid propellant, with a fourth stage being a velocity-trimming module.

              INDIA’S SPACE PROGRAMMES

              COMMUNICATION SATELLITES:

              • The Indian National Satellite (INSAT) systems are the set of communication satellites launched in Geo-synchronous orbit at an altitude of about 36,000 km.
              • Applications: The INSAT system with more than 200 transponders in the C, Extended C and Ku-bands provides services to telecommunications, television broadcasting, satellite newsgathering, societal applications, weather forecasting, disaster warning and Search and Rescue operations.

              RECENT LAUNCHES: GSAT-30

              • Launched into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) on January 17, 2020, from Kourou launch base, French Guiana by Ariane-5 VA-251 vehicle.
              • Aims to provide communication services from Geostationary orbit in C and Ku bands.
              • Weighing 3357 kg, GSAT-30 is to serve as a replacement to INSAT-4A spacecraft services with enhanced coverage.
              • Lifespan: 15 years.
              • Applications: DTH, connectivity to VSATs for ATMs, Stock exchange, Television unlinking and Teleport Services, Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) and e-governance applications.

              REMOTE SENSING (Earth Observation) SATELLITES:

              • Starting with IRS-1A in 1988, ISRO has launched many operational remote sensing satellites.
              • They are mostly polar, sun-synchronous satellites in low- earth orbit (LEO) at about 800 km from the earth surface.
              • Currently, 13 operational satellites are in Sun-synchronous orbit: RESOURCESAT-1, 2, 2A CARTOSAT-1, 2, 2A, 2B, RISAT-1 and 2, OCEANSAT-2, Megha-Tropiques, SARAL and SCATSAT-1, and 4 in Geo-stationary orbit: INSAT-3D, Kalpana& INSAT 3A, INSAT -3DR.
              • They are commonly called as remote sensing satellites as they collect information of any object on Earth through the measurement of radiation of the Sun that is reflected and scattered by objects on the surface of the earth.
              • Applications covering agriculture, water resources, urban planning, rural development, mineral prospecting, environment, forestry, ocean resources and disaster management.

              RECENT LAUNCHES

              • EOS-01 is an earth observation satellite, intended for applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support. Launch Vehicle: PSLV-C49. From Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Srihari kota on November 07, 2020.
              • RISAT-2BR1 is radar imaging earth observation satellite (placed at 576km altitude). The satellite will provide services in the field of Agriculture, Forestry and Disaster Management. Launch Vehicle: PSLV-C48 from SDSC, Srihari kota on Dec-11, 2019.
              • CARTOSAT-3 will address the increased user’s demands for large scale urban planning, rural resource and infrastructure development, coastal land use and land cover etc. Launch Vehicle: PSLV-C47. From SDSC, Sriharikota on Nov-27, 2019.

              HYPERSPECTRAL IMAGING(HSI):

              (HSI) is a technique that analyzes a wide spectrum of light instead of just assigning primary colors (red, green, blue) to each pixel.

              Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite (HysIS):

              · India’s first hyperspectral imaging satellite.

              · Placed in Sun-synchronous polar orbit, 636 km above the surface of the earth. Launch Vehicle: PSLV-C43. From SDSC, Sriharikota on Nov-29, 2018.

              · Primary objective: to study the earth’s surface in the visible, near-infrared and shortwave infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

              INDIAN REGIONAL NAVIGATION SATELLITE SYSTEM (IRNSS)

              • IRNSS (also known as NavIC) is an independent regional navigation satellite system being developed by India.
              • It is designed to provide accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1500 km from its boundary.
              • IRNSS will provide two types of services, namely:
                1. Standard Positioning Service (SPS) which is provided to all the users and
                2. Restricted Service (RS), which is an encrypted service provided only to authorized users.
                • The IRNSS System is expected to provide a position accuracy of better than 20 m in the primary service area.
                • There are currently seven IRNSS satellites (1A to 1G) in orbit.
                  1. 4 satellites: A, B, F, G – are placed in a Geosynchronous Orbit. (1A is replaced by 1I recently)
                  2. 3 satellites: C, D, E – are located in Geostationary Orbit

                  Applications of IRNSS:

                  · Terrestrial, Aerial and Marine Navigation

                  · Vehicle tracking and fleet management

                  · Integration with mobile phones

                  · Mapping and Geodetic data capture

                  · Terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travelers

                  SOUTH ASIA SATELLITE (SAS) – The GSAT-9

                  • SAS is a communication satellite (Ku-band) built by ISRO to provide a variety of communication services over the South Asian region.
                  • Launch Vehicle: GSLV-F09.
                  • From SDSC, Srihari kota.
                  • Weight: 2230 kg. Into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) on May 05, 2017.
                  • The initial proposal to name it as “SAARC Satellite” was changed to “South Asia Satellite” following Pakistan’s refusal.
                  • SAS/GSAT-9 to boost communication and improve disaster links among India’s six Neighbours has “opened up new horizons of engagement” in the region and helped it carve a unique place for itself in space diplomacy.
                  • SAS covers six SAARC countries namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka (except Pakistan).

                  INDIAN DATA RELAY SATELLITE SYSTEM (IDRSS):

                  • It will be a set of satellites that will track, send and receive information from other Indian Satellites in space.
                  • IDRSS satellites of the 2,000 kg class would be launched on the GSLV launcher to geostationary orbits around 36,000 km away.
                  • It is primarily meant for providing continuous/real-time communication of Low-Earth-Orbit satellites including human space mission to the ground station.
                  • Need for IDRSS:
                    1. India is dependent on foreign space agencies (like NASA) for information related to satellites in space.
                    2. To assist ISRO’s 1 st human to space project the ‘Gaganyaan’ of 2022.
                    3. A data relay satellite instead in the geostationary orbit can overcome the need for a large number of ground-based stations.
                    • It will be useful in monitoring launches and vital for ISRO which has planned in future several advanced Low Earth Orbit (LEO) missions such as space docking, space station, as well as distant expeditions to the moon, Mars and Venus.

                    SPACE EXPLORATION MISSIONS

                    CHANDRAYAAN

                    CHANDRAYAAN-1

                    · India’s first mission to Moon.

                    · Launched successfully on October 22, 2008 (G. Madhavan Nair was ISRO chairman) from SDSC, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

                    · The spacecraft orbited around the Moon at an altitude of 100 km &200 km from the lunar surface for chemical, mineralogical and photo-geologic mapping of the Moon.

                    CHANDRAYAAN-2

                    · The second lunar exploration and 1st lander and rover mission of ISRO | Launcher: GSLV MK III

                    · It is the world’s 1st lunar mission to the South Pole of the Moon’s near side.

                    · The South Pole of the lunar surface remains in shadow is much larger than that at the North Pole.

                    · Aims at studying not just one area of the Moon but all the areas combining the exosphere, the surface as well as the sub-surface of the moon in a single mission.

                    · The Orbiter will observe the lunar surface and relay communication between Earth and Chandrayaan 2’s Lander Vikram.

                    · The lander was designed to execute India’s first soft landing on the lunar surface.

                    · The lander-rover integrated module was supposed to soft-land near South Pole (about 600 km) of the moon.

                    · The rover was a 6-wheeled, AI-powered vehicle named Pragyan, which translates to ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit.

                    · However, a last-minute software glitch led to crash-landing of Vikram and Pragyan.

                    1. To find traces of Water and Helium-3

                    2. On-site chemical analysis of the surface

                    • Also called Mars Orbiter Mission, it is India’s 1st interplanetary mission
                    • Launched using PSLV C-25 on Nov-5, 2013 & reached Mars on 24 th Sept 2014.
                    • It costs 450 crores, weight 1350 kg, travelled for 300 days covered 65 crore km.
                    • ISRO has become the 4 th space agency to reach Mars, after the Soviet space program, NASA, and the European Space Agency.
                    • It is the first Asian nation to reach Mars orbit, and the first nation to do so on its first attempt.
                    • Objective: Exploration of Martian surface features, morphology, mineralogy and atmosphere.
                    • Important payloads:
                      1. Atmospheric studies (Lyman-alpha Photometer (LAP), Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM))
                      2. Particle environment studies (Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer (MENCA)),
                      3. Surface imaging studies (Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS), Mars Colour Camera (MCC))

                      NOTE: ISRO is also planning a Lander mission to Mars under Mangalyaan-2 by 2024withthe main objective is to study the surface geology, magnetic fields and interplanetary dust.

                      • India’s 1st Human spaceflight programme (announced in 2018) to be launched by 2022.
                      • It will make India the 4th country to send manned mission after Russia, USA and China.
                      • Over the years, the ISRO has developed and tested many technologies that are critical to a human space flight.
                      • These include a Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE-2007), Crew module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment (CARE-2014), GSLV Mk-III (2014), Reusable Launch Vehicle- Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), Crew Escape System and Pad Abort Test.
                      • It will include two unmanned flights to be launched in December 2020 (deferred) and July 2021 and one human space flight to be launched in December 2021.
                      • GAGANYAAN expected to carry 3 astronauts to a Low Earth Orbit on board GSLV Mark III vehicle, for at least 7 days.
                      • ISRO has signed a pact with the Russian firm Glavkosmos to train astronauts (selected from Indian Air Force) for this project.
                      • Also, ISRO will receive assistance from the French space agency CNES, in terms of expertise in various fields including space medicine, astronaut health monitoring, radiation protection and life support.

                      · Vyoma (space) + mitra (friend) à Vyomamitra

                      · It is a Gynoid (female humanoid robot).

                      · ISRO has planned to send Vyomamitra in the unmanned crew module of Gaganyaan.

                      · Objective: To test the Environmental Control & Life Support System of Ganganyaan to detect environmental changes.

                      Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC)

                      · It was established by ISRO in 2019 to coordinate with Indian Human Spaceflight Programme (HSP) and will be responsible for the implementation of Gaganyaan Mission.

                      • ISRO’s planned orbiter mission to Venus by 2023
                      • Main goals are to study:
                        1. The atmosphere and its chemistry
                        2. Surface and sub-surface features
                        3. Interaction of the planet with solar radiation

                        ADITYA MISSION

                        • India’s 1st first mission to study the Sun to be launched in early 2020 (deferred)
                        • Its main objective is to study the solar corona.
                        • Initially, Aditya-1 was meant to observe solar corona only.
                        • Now additional payloads under Aditya-L1 (L1-Lagrange point orbit) with observing corona, chromosphere and photosphere.
                        • It will have 7 payloads onboard to study Sun’s corona, solar emissions, solar winds and flares, and Coronal Mass Ejections, and will carry out round-the-clock imaging of Sun.

                        LAGRANGE POINT

                        · A Lagrange point is a location in space where the combined gravitational forces of two large bodies, such as Earth and the sun or Earth and the moon, equal the centrifugal force felt by a much smaller third body.

                        · These points are named after Joseph-Louis Lagrange, an 18th-century mathematician who wrote about them in the “three-body problem” in 1772.

                        IMPORTANT MISSIONS OF NASA

                        · Various missions under the New Frontiers Program are:

                        1. New Horizons: Launched in 2006 to investigate distant solar system object including Pluto and its moons and Kuiper Belt.

                        2. Juno: launched in 2016 to study Jupiter.

                        3. OSIRIS-REx mission: to collect samples from an asteroid Bennufor further study.

                        · It is expected to be launched in 2022.

                        OTHER SPACE AGENCIES

                        · It is the first mission to land on the far side of the Moon.

                        · It is the 1st dual-band radar imaging satellite. (L-Band and S-Band).

                        SPACE OBSERVATORIES ON SURFACE AND IN SPACE-IMPORTANT TELESCOPES

                        · One of the largest multi-wavelength space telescopes.

                        · It’s a Joint project of NASA and ESA

                        · 600 km above the surface of the earth.

                        · The successor of Hubble Space Telescope to be launched in 2021.

                        · Times bigger than HST and 6 times more powerful.

                        THIRTY METER TELESCOPE (TMT)

                        · TMT project is an international partnership between the USA, Canada, Japan, China, and India.

                        · It will allow deeper exploration into space and observe cosmic objects with unprecedented sensitivity.

                        · Installation site: Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

                        · An array of 30 fully steerable parabolic radio telescopes of 45-metre diameter.


                        Table of Contents

                        For traditional reasons Theory and Laboratory Astrophysics have been coupled together in this report. However, since they are rather separate areas with different communities and different impact, we have tried to separate clearly the science and the needs of these two communities. The vitality of both Theory and Laboratory Astrophysics is critical to the success of essentially all future astronomy.

                        While Arthur Eddington's famous statement that no astronomical observation can be believed until confirmed by theory may be a bit excessive, there is no question that branches of science progress most rapidly when there is a close interplay of theory, observation and experiment. When theory runs too far ahead of what can be measured, a field becomes more philosophy than science, and when data taking yields huge archives without understanding, fields go through intellectual stagnation. The success of modern astrophysics illustrates the close interdependence of observation, experiment and theory. To maintain a vital science requires a strong theoretical community commensurate with a strong experimental/observational community. A strong theoretical community does not only attempt to explain data and establish frameworks with which to analyze, but it also makes predictions about what should eventually be seen. Furthermore, theory can provide a deep and satisfying understanding of how things fit together into a coherent view of the universe as a whole. In the two science sections of this report, opportunities for the 90's and successes of the 80's, we see both the impressive opportunities that lie ahead as well as recent successes upon which we can build. In particular, we note that theory has been an important driver of our subject in many areas.

                        Laboratory Astrophysics plays a very different role than Theory. It provides the firm laboratory base of atomic, molecular and plasma data necessary to understand and direct observations in space. It also provides the nuclear data necessary to carry out calculations of cosmological and stellar nucleosynthesis as well as energy generation and other nuclear processes. Furthermore, high energy accelerators and other particle experiments are now not only providing the particle data necessary for calculations, but also in some cases even testing cosmological predictions. Another area of Laboratory activity has been in the determination of meteoritic abundances which play a key role in the interpretation of nucleosynthetic ideas. In the science sections of this report, each of these wide-ranging sub-areas will be discussed.

                        The recommendations are divided into two sections. The first, immediately following the science opportunities, will discuss funding needs. The second, at the end, will discuss policy and procedural questions. Since Theory receives significant funding from three separate agencies, NSF, DOE and NASA, while Laboratory Astrophysics receives funding from those three plus NIST, and since each receives support from different subsections within those agencies, it is obvious that policy and interagency co-operation questions are non-trivial. In particular, the argument is made that both Theory and Laboratory Astrophysics require that funding be commensurate with the levels of funding received throughout astrophysics. Furthermore, since most of this funding is for relatively small individual research grants, it is important that such individual programs are not allowed to be lost or overlooked in the zeal for large projects.


                        1. Introduction

                        The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has developed a markup package to assist authors in preparing manuscripts intended for submission to its journals.

                        The most important aspect of the AASTeX package is that it defines the set of commands, or markup, that can be used to identify the structural elements of manuscripts. When articles are marked up using this set of standard commands, they may then be submitted electronically to the editorial office which aids both the peer review ingest and production processing.

                        This guide contains basic instructions for creating manuscripts using the AASTeX v6.0 markup package. Authors are expected to be familiar with the editorial requirements of the journals so that they can make appropriate submissions they should also have a basic knowledge of L a TeX -for instance, knowing how to set up equations using L a TeX commands.

                        Authors who wish to submit manuscripts electronically to the AAS Journals are strongly encouraged to use the AASTeX markup package as proper AASTeX markup will speed the ingest process at submission by via the proper extraction of author information from the manuscript and reduce errors during production.


                        Contents

                        Proposals and precursors Edit

                        In 1923, Hermann Oberth — considered a father of modern rocketry, along with Robert H. Goddard and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky — published Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen ("The Rocket into Planetary Space"), which mentioned how a telescope could be propelled into Earth orbit by a rocket. [11]

                        The history of the Hubble Space Telescope can be traced back as far as 1946, to astronomer Lyman Spitzer's paper entitled "Astronomical advantages of an extraterrestrial observatory". [12] In it, he discussed the two main advantages that a space-based observatory would have over ground-based telescopes. First, the angular resolution (the smallest separation at which objects can be clearly distinguished) would be limited only by diffraction, rather than by the turbulence in the atmosphere, which causes stars to twinkle, known to astronomers as seeing. At that time ground-based telescopes were limited to resolutions of 0.5–1.0 arcseconds, compared to a theoretical diffraction-limited resolution of about 0.05 arcsec for an optical telescope with a mirror 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) in diameter. Second, a space-based telescope could observe infrared and ultraviolet light, which are strongly absorbed by the atmosphere of Earth.

                        Spitzer devoted much of his career to pushing for the development of a space telescope. In 1962, a report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences recommended development of a space telescope as part of the space program, and in 1965 Spitzer was appointed as head of a committee given the task of defining scientific objectives for a large space telescope. [13]

                        Space-based astronomy had begun on a very small scale following World War II, as scientists made use of developments that had taken place in rocket technology. The first ultraviolet spectrum of the Sun was obtained in 1946, [14] and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched the Orbiting Solar Observatory (OSO) to obtain UV, X-ray, and gamma-ray spectra in 1962. [15] An orbiting solar telescope was launched in 1962 by the United Kingdom as part of the Ariel space program, and in 1966 NASA launched the first Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO) mission. OAO-1's battery failed after three days, terminating the mission. It was followed by Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 2 (OAO-2), which carried out ultraviolet observations of stars and galaxies from its launch in 1968 until 1972, well beyond its original planned lifetime of one year. [16]

                        The OSO and OAO missions demonstrated the important role space-based observations could play in astronomy. In 1968, NASA developed firm plans for a space-based reflecting telescope with a mirror 3 m (9.8 ft) in diameter, known provisionally as the Large Orbiting Telescope or Large Space Telescope (LST), with a launch slated for 1979. These plans emphasized the need for crewed maintenance missions to the telescope to ensure such a costly program had a lengthy working life, and the concurrent development of plans for the reusable Space Shuttle indicated that the technology to allow this was soon to become available. [17]

                        Quest for funding Edit

                        The continuing success of the OAO program encouraged increasingly strong consensus within the astronomical community that the LST should be a major goal. In 1970, NASA established two committees, one to plan the engineering side of the space telescope project, and the other to determine the scientific goals of the mission. Once these had been established, the next hurdle for NASA was to obtain funding for the instrument, which would be far more costly than any Earth-based telescope. The U.S. Congress questioned many aspects of the proposed budget for the telescope and forced cuts in the budget for the planning stages, which at the time consisted of very detailed studies of potential instruments and hardware for the telescope. In 1974, public spending cuts led to Congress deleting all funding for the telescope project. [18]

                        In response a nationwide lobbying effort was coordinated among astronomers. Many astronomers met congressmen and senators in person, and large scale letter-writing campaigns were organized. The National Academy of Sciences published a report emphasizing the need for a space telescope, and eventually the Senate agreed to half the budget that had originally been approved by Congress. [19]

                        The funding issues led to something of a reduction in the scale of the project, with the proposed mirror diameter reduced from 3 m to 2.4 m, both to cut costs [20] and to allow a more compact and effective configuration for the telescope hardware. A proposed precursor 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) space telescope to test the systems to be used on the main satellite was dropped, and budgetary concerns also prompted collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA). ESA agreed to provide funding and supply one of the first generation instruments for the telescope, as well as the solar cells that would power it, and staff to work on the telescope in the United States, in return for European astronomers being guaranteed at least 15% of the observing time on the telescope. [21] Congress eventually approved funding of US$36 million for 1978, and the design of the LST began in earnest, aiming for a launch date of 1983. [19] In 1983, the telescope was named after Edwin Hubble, [22] who confirmed one of the greatest scientific discoveries of the 20th century, made by Georges Lemaître, that the universe is expanding. [23]

                        Construction and engineering Edit

                        Once the Space Telescope project had been given the go-ahead, work on the program was divided among many institutions. Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) was given responsibility for the design, development, and construction of the telescope, while Goddard Space Flight Center was given overall control of the scientific instruments and ground-control center for the mission. [24] MSFC commissioned the optics company Perkin-Elmer to design and build the Optical Telescope Assembly (OTA) and Fine Guidance Sensors for the space telescope. Lockheed was commissioned to construct and integrate the spacecraft in which the telescope would be housed. [25]

                        Optical Telescope Assembly Edit

                        Optically, the HST is a Cassegrain reflector of Ritchey–Chrétien design, as are most large professional telescopes. This design, with two hyperbolic mirrors, is known for good imaging performance over a wide field of view, with the disadvantage that the mirrors have shapes that are hard to fabricate and test. The mirror and optical systems of the telescope determine the final performance, and they were designed to exacting specifications. Optical telescopes typically have mirrors polished to an accuracy of about a tenth of the wavelength of visible light, but the Space Telescope was to be used for observations from the visible through the ultraviolet (shorter wavelengths) and was specified to be diffraction limited to take full advantage of the space environment. Therefore, its mirror needed to be polished to an accuracy of 10 nanometers, or about 1/65 of the wavelength of red light. [26] On the long wavelength end, the OTA was not designed with optimum IR performance in mind—for example, the mirrors are kept at stable (and warm, about 15 °C) temperatures by heaters. This limits Hubble's performance as an infrared telescope. [27]

                        Perkin-Elmer intended to use custom-built and extremely sophisticated computer-controlled polishing machines to grind the mirror to the required shape. [25] However, in case their cutting-edge technology ran into difficulties, NASA demanded that PE sub-contract to Kodak to construct a back-up mirror using traditional mirror-polishing techniques. [28] (The team of Kodak and Itek also bid on the original mirror polishing work. Their bid called for the two companies to double-check each other's work, which would have almost certainly caught the polishing error that later caused such problems.) [29] The Kodak mirror is now on permanent display at the National Air and Space Museum. [30] [31] An Itek mirror built as part of the effort is now used in the 2.4 m telescope at the Magdalena Ridge Observatory. [32]

                        Construction of the Perkin-Elmer mirror began in 1979, starting with a blank manufactured by Corning from their ultra-low expansion glass. To keep the mirror's weight to a minimum it consisted of top and bottom plates, each 25 mm (0.98 in) thick, sandwiching a honeycomb lattice. Perkin-Elmer simulated microgravity by supporting the mirror from the back with 130 rods that exerted varying amounts of force. [33] This ensured the mirror's final shape would be correct and to specification when finally deployed. Mirror polishing continued until May 1981. NASA reports at the time questioned Perkin-Elmer's managerial structure, and the polishing began to slip behind schedule and over budget. To save money, NASA halted work on the back-up mirror and put the launch date of the telescope back to October 1984. [34] The mirror was completed by the end of 1981 it was washed using 9,100 L (2,000 imp gal 2,400 US gal) of hot, deionized water and then received a reflective coating of 65 nm-thick aluminum and a protective coating of 25 nm-thick magnesium fluoride. [27] [35]

                        Doubts continued to be expressed about Perkin-Elmer's competence on a project of this importance, as their budget and timescale for producing the rest of the OTA continued to inflate. In response to a schedule described as "unsettled and changing daily", NASA postponed the launch date of the telescope until April 1985. Perkin-Elmer's schedules continued to slip at a rate of about one month per quarter, and at times delays reached one day for each day of work. NASA was forced to postpone the launch date until March and then September 1986. By this time, the total project budget had risen to US$1.175 billion. [36]

                        Spacecraft systems Edit

                        The spacecraft in which the telescope and instruments were to be housed was another major engineering challenge. It would have to withstand frequent passages from direct sunlight into the darkness of Earth's shadow, which would cause major changes in temperature, while being stable enough to allow extremely accurate pointing of the telescope. A shroud of multi-layer insulation keeps the temperature within the telescope stable and surrounds a light aluminum shell in which the telescope and instruments sit. Within the shell, a graphite-epoxy frame keeps the working parts of the telescope firmly aligned. [37] Because graphite composites are hygroscopic, there was a risk that water vapor absorbed by the truss while in Lockheed's clean room would later be expressed in the vacuum of space resulting in the telescope's instruments being covered by ice. To reduce that risk, a nitrogen gas purge was performed before launching the telescope into space. [38]

                        While construction of the spacecraft in which the telescope and instruments would be housed proceeded somewhat more smoothly than the construction of the OTA, Lockheed still experienced some budget and schedule slippage, and by the summer of 1985, construction of the spacecraft was 30% over budget and three months behind schedule. An MSFC report said Lockheed tended to rely on NASA directions rather than take their own initiative in the construction. [39]

                        Computer systems and data processing Edit

                        The two initial, primary computers on the HST were the 1.25 MHz DF-224 system, built by Rockwell Autonetics, which contained three redundant CPUs, and two redundant NSSC-1 (NASA Standard Spacecraft Computer, Model 1) systems, developed by Westinghouse and GSFC using diode–transistor logic (DTL). A co-processor for the DF-224 was added during Servicing Mission 1 in 1993, which consisted of two redundant strings of an Intel-based 80386 processor with an 80387 math co-processor. [40] The DF-224 and its 386 co-processor were replaced by a 25 MHz Intel-based 80486 processor system during Servicing Mission 3A in 1999. [41] The new computer is 20 times faster, with six times more memory, than the DF-224 it replaced. It increases throughput by moving some computing tasks from the ground to the spacecraft and saves money by allowing the use of modern programming languages. [42]

                        Additionally, some of the science instruments and components had their own embedded microprocessor-based control systems. The MATs (Multiple Access Transponder) components, MAT-1 and MAT-2, utilize Hughes Aircraft CDP1802CD microprocessors. [43] The Wide Field and Planetary Camera (WFPC) also utilized an RCA 1802 microprocessor (or possibly the older 1801 version). [44] The WFPC-1 was replaced by the WFPC-2 during Servicing Mission 1 in 1993, which was then replaced by the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) during Servicing Mission 4 in 2009.

                        Initial instruments Edit

                        When launched, the HST carried five scientific instruments: the Wide Field and Planetary Camera (WF/PC), Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph (GHRS), High Speed Photometer (HSP), Faint Object Camera (FOC) and the Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS). WF/PC was a high-resolution imaging device primarily intended for optical observations. It was built by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and incorporated a set of 48 filters isolating spectral lines of particular astrophysical interest. The instrument contained eight charge-coupled device (CCD) chips divided between two cameras, each using four CCDs. Each CCD has a resolution of 0.64 megapixels. [45] The wide field camera (WFC) covered a large angular field at the expense of resolution, while the planetary camera (PC) took images at a longer effective focal length than the WF chips, giving it a greater magnification. [46]

                        The Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph (GHRS) was a spectrograph designed to operate in the ultraviolet. It was built by the Goddard Space Flight Center and could achieve a spectral resolution of 90,000. [47] Also optimized for ultraviolet observations were the FOC and FOS, which were capable of the highest spatial resolution of any instruments on Hubble. Rather than CCDs, these three instruments used photon-counting digicons as their detectors. The FOC was constructed by ESA, while the University of California, San Diego, and Martin Marietta Corporation built the FOS. [46]

                        The final instrument was the HSP, designed and built at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. It was optimized for visible and ultraviolet light observations of variable stars and other astronomical objects varying in brightness. It could take up to 100,000 measurements per second with a photometric accuracy of about 2% or better. [48]

                        HST's guidance system can also be used as a scientific instrument. Its three Fine Guidance Sensors (FGS) are primarily used to keep the telescope accurately pointed during an observation, but can also be used to carry out extremely accurate astrometry measurements accurate to within 0.0003 arcseconds have been achieved. [49]

                        Ground support Edit

                        The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) is responsible for the scientific operation of the telescope and the delivery of data products to astronomers. STScI is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) and is physically located in Baltimore, Maryland on the Homewood campus of Johns Hopkins University, one of the 39 U.S. universities and seven international affiliates that make up the AURA consortium. STScI was established in 1981 [50] [51] after something of a power struggle between NASA and the scientific community at large. NASA had wanted to keep this function in-house, but scientists wanted it to be based in an academic establishment. [52] [53] The Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility (ST-ECF), established at Garching bei München near Munich in 1984, provided similar support for European astronomers until 2011, when these activities were moved to the European Space Astronomy Centre.

                        One rather complex task that falls to STScI is scheduling observations for the telescope. [54] Hubble is in a low-Earth orbit to enable servicing missions, but this means most astronomical targets are occulted by the Earth for slightly less than half of each orbit. Observations cannot take place when the telescope passes through the South Atlantic Anomaly due to elevated radiation levels, and there are also sizable exclusion zones around the Sun (precluding observations of Mercury), Moon and Earth. The solar avoidance angle is about 50°, to keep sunlight from illuminating any part of the OTA. Earth and Moon avoidance keeps bright light out of the FGSs, and keeps scattered light from entering the instruments. If the FGSs are turned off, the Moon and Earth can be observed. Earth observations were used very early in the program to generate flat-fields for the WFPC1 instrument. There is a so-called continuous viewing zone (CVZ), at roughly 90° to the plane of Hubble's orbit, in which targets are not occulted for long periods.

                        Due to the precession of the orbit, the location of the CVZ moves slowly over a period of eight weeks. Because the limb of the Earth is always within about 30° of regions within the CVZ, the brightness of scattered earthshine may be elevated for long periods during CVZ observations. Hubble orbits in low Earth orbit at an altitude of approximately 540 kilometers (340 mi) and an inclination of 28.5°. [5] The position along its orbit changes over time in a way that is not accurately predictable. The density of the upper atmosphere varies according to many factors, and this means Hubble's predicted position for six weeks' time could be in error by up to 4,000 km (2,500 mi). Observation schedules are typically finalized only a few days in advance, as a longer lead time would mean there was a chance the target would be unobservable by the time it was due to be observed. [55] Engineering support for HST is provided by NASA and contractor personnel at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, 48 km (30 mi) south of the STScI. Hubble's operation is monitored 24 hours per day by four teams of flight controllers who make up Hubble's Flight Operations Team. [54]

                        Challenger disaster, delays, and eventual launch Edit

                        By January 1986, the planned launch date of October looked feasible, but the Challenger explosion brought the U.S. space program to a halt, grounding the Shuttle fleet and forcing the launch of Hubble to be postponed for several years. The telescope had to be kept in a clean room, powered up and purged with nitrogen, until a launch could be rescheduled. This costly situation (about US$6 million per month) pushed the overall costs of the project even higher. This delay did allow time for engineers to perform extensive tests, swap out a possibly failure-prone battery, and make other improvements. [56] Furthermore, the ground software needed to control Hubble was not ready in 1986, and was barely ready by the 1990 launch. [57]

                        Eventually, following the resumption of shuttle flights in 1988, the launch of the telescope was scheduled for 1990. On April 24, 1990, Space Shuttle Discovery successfully launched it during the STS-31 mission. [58]

                        From its original total cost estimate of about US$400 million , the telescope cost about US$4.7 billion by the time of its launch. Hubble's cumulative costs were estimated to be about US$10 billion in 2010, twenty years after launch. [59]

                        Hubble accommodates five science instruments at a given time, plus the Fine Guidance Sensors, which are mainly used for aiming the telescope but are occasionally used for scientific astrometry measurements. Early instruments were replaced with more advanced ones during the Shuttle servicing missions. COSTAR was a corrective optics device rather than a science instrument, but occupied one of the five instrument bays.

                        Since the final servicing mission in 2009, the four active instruments have been ACS, COS, STIS and WFC3. NICMOS is kept in hibernation, but may be revived if WFC3 were to fail in the future.

                          (ACS 2002–present) (COS 2009–present) (COSTAR 1993–2009) (FOC 1990–2002) (FOS 1990–1997) (FGS 1990–present) (GHRS/HRS 1990–1997) (HSP 1990–1993) (NICMOS 1997–present, hibernating since 2008) (STIS 1997–present (non-operative 2004–2009)) (WFPC 1990–1993) (WFPC2 1993–2009) (WFC3 2009–present)

                        Of the former instruments, three (COSTAR, FOS and WFPC2) are displayed in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The FOC is in the Dornier museum, Germany. The HSP is in the Space Place at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. The first WFPC was dismantled, and some components were then re-used in WFC3.

                        Within weeks of the launch of the telescope, the returned images indicated a serious problem with the optical system. Although the first images appeared to be sharper than those of ground-based telescopes, Hubble failed to achieve a final sharp focus and the best image quality obtained was drastically lower than expected. Images of point sources spread out over a radius of more than one arcsecond, instead of having a point spread function (PSF) concentrated within a circle 0.1 arcseconds (485 nrad) in diameter, as had been specified in the design criteria. [60] [61]

                        The effect of the mirror flaw on scientific observations depended on the particular observation—the core of the aberrated PSF was sharp enough to permit high-resolution observations of bright objects, and spectroscopy of point sources was affected only through a sensitivity loss. However, the loss of light to the large, out-of-focus halo severely reduced the usefulness of the telescope for faint objects or high-contrast imaging. This meant nearly all the cosmological programs were essentially impossible, since they required observation of exceptionally faint objects. [63] This led politicians to question NASA's competence, scientists to rue the cost which could have gone to more productive endeavors, and comedians to make jokes about NASA and the telescope [64] − in the 1991 comedy The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear, in a scene where historical disasters are displayed, Hubble is pictured with RMS Titanic and LZ 129 Hindenburg. [65] Nonetheless, during the first three years of the Hubble mission, before the optical corrections, the telescope still carried out a large number of productive observations of less demanding targets. [66] The error was well characterized and stable, enabling astronomers to partially compensate for the defective mirror by using sophisticated image processing techniques such as deconvolution. [67]

                        Origin of the problem Edit

                        A commission headed by Lew Allen, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was established to determine how the error could have arisen. The Allen Commission found that a reflective null corrector, a testing device used to achieve a properly shaped non-spherical mirror, had been incorrectly assembled—one lens was out of position by 1.3 mm (0.051 in). [68] During the initial grinding and polishing of the mirror, Perkin-Elmer analyzed its surface with two conventional refractive null correctors. However, for the final manufacturing step (figuring), they switched to the custom-built reflective null corrector, designed explicitly to meet very strict tolerances. The incorrect assembly of this device resulted in the mirror being ground very precisely but to the wrong shape. A few final tests, using the conventional null correctors, correctly reported spherical aberration. But these results were dismissed, thus missing the opportunity to catch the error, because the reflective null corrector was considered more accurate. [69]

                        The commission blamed the failings primarily on Perkin-Elmer. Relations between NASA and the optics company had been severely strained during the telescope construction, due to frequent schedule slippage and cost overruns. NASA found that Perkin-Elmer did not review or supervise the mirror construction adequately, did not assign its best optical scientists to the project (as it had for the prototype), and in particular did not involve the optical designers in the construction and verification of the mirror. While the commission heavily criticized Perkin-Elmer for these managerial failings, NASA was also criticized for not picking up on the quality control shortcomings, such as relying totally on test results from a single instrument. [70]

                        Design of a solution Edit

                        Many feared that Hubble would be abandoned. [71] The design of the telescope had always incorporated servicing missions, and astronomers immediately began to seek potential solutions to the problem that could be applied at the first servicing mission, scheduled for 1993. While Kodak had ground a back-up mirror for Hubble, it would have been impossible to replace the mirror in orbit, and too expensive and time-consuming to bring the telescope back to Earth for a refit. Instead, the fact that the mirror had been ground so precisely to the wrong shape led to the design of new optical components with exactly the same error but in the opposite sense, to be added to the telescope at the servicing mission, effectively acting as "spectacles" to correct the spherical aberration. [72] [73]

                        The first step was a precise characterization of the error in the main mirror. Working backwards from images of point sources, astronomers determined that the conic constant of the mirror as built was −1.01390 ± 0.0002 , instead of the intended −1.00230 . [74] [75] The same number was also derived by analyzing the null corrector used by Perkin-Elmer to figure the mirror, as well as by analyzing interferograms obtained during ground testing of the mirror. [76]

                        Because of the way the HST's instruments were designed, two different sets of correctors were required. The design of the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, already planned to replace the existing WF/PC, included relay mirrors to direct light onto the four separate charge-coupled device (CCD) chips making up its two cameras. An inverse error built into their surfaces could completely cancel the aberration of the primary. However, the other instruments lacked any intermediate surfaces that could be figured in this way, and so required an external correction device. [77]

                        The Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (COSTAR) system was designed to correct the spherical aberration for light focused at the FOC, FOS, and GHRS. It consists of two mirrors in the light path with one ground to correct the aberration. [78] To fit the COSTAR system onto the telescope, one of the other instruments had to be removed, and astronomers selected the High Speed Photometer to be sacrificed. [77] By 2002, all the original instruments requiring COSTAR had been replaced by instruments with their own corrective optics. [79] COSTAR was removed and returned to Earth in 2009 where it is exhibited at the National Air and Space Museum. The area previously used by COSTAR is now occupied by the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph. [80]

                        Hubble was designed to accommodate regular servicing and equipment upgrades while in orbit. Instruments and limited life items were designed as orbital replacement units. [81] Five servicing missions (SM 1, 2, 3A, 3B, and 4) were flown by NASA space shuttles, the first in December 1993 and the last in May 2009. [82] Servicing missions were delicate operations that began with maneuvering to intercept the telescope in orbit and carefully retrieving it with the shuttle's mechanical arm. The necessary work was then carried out in multiple tethered spacewalks over a period of four to five days. After a visual inspection of the telescope, astronauts conducted repairs, replaced failed or degraded components, upgraded equipment, and installed new instruments. Once work was completed, the telescope was redeployed, typically after boosting to a higher orbit to address the orbital decay caused by atmospheric drag. [83]

                        Servicing Mission 1 Edit

                        The first Hubble serving mission was scheduled for 1993 before the mirror problem was discovered. It assumed greater importance, as the astronauts would need to do extensive work to install corrective optics failure would have resulted in either abandoning Hubble or accepting its permanent disability. Other components failed before the mission, causing the repair cost to rise to $500 million (not including the cost of the shuttle flight). A successful repair would help demonstrate the viability of building Space Station Alpha. [84]

                        STS-49 in 1992 demonstrated the difficulty of space work. While its rescue of Intelsat 603 received praise, the astronauts had taken possibly reckless risks in doing so. Neither the rescue nor the unrelated assembly of prototype space station components occurred as the astronauts had trained, causing NASA to reassess planning and training, including for the Hubble repair. The agency assigned to the mission Story Musgrave—who had worked on satellite repair procedures since 1976—and six other experienced astronauts, including two from STS-49. The first mission director since Project Apollo would coordinate a crew with 16 previous shuttle flights. The astronauts were trained to use about a hundred specialized tools. [85]

                        Heat had been the problem on prior spacewalks, which occurred in sunlight. Hubble needed to be repaired out of sunlight. Musgrave discovered during vacuum training, seven months before the mission, that spacesuit gloves did not sufficiently protect against the cold of space. After STS-57 confirmed the issue in orbit, NASA quickly changed equipment, procedures, and flight plan. Seven total mission simulations occurred before launch, the most thorough preparation in shuttle history. No complete Hubble mockup existed, so the astronauts studied many separate models (including one at the Smithsonian) and mentally combined their varying and contradictory details. [86] Service Mission 1 flew aboard Endeavour in December 1993, and involved installation of several instruments and other equipment over ten days.

                        Most importantly, the High Speed Photometer was replaced with the COSTAR corrective optics package, and WF/PC was replaced with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) with an internal optical correction system. The solar arrays and their drive electronics were also replaced, as well as four gyroscopes in the telescope pointing system, two electrical control units and other electrical components, and two magnetometers. The onboard computers were upgraded with added coprocessors, and Hubble's orbit was boosted. [62]

                        On January 13, 1994, NASA declared the mission a complete success and showed the first sharper images. [87] The mission was one of the most complex performed up until that date, involving five long extra-vehicular activity periods. Its success was a boon for NASA, as well as for the astronomers who now had a more capable space telescope.

                        Servicing Mission 2 Edit

                        Servicing Mission 2, flown by Discovery in February 1997, replaced the GHRS and the FOS with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS), replaced an Engineering and Science Tape Recorder with a new Solid State Recorder, and repaired thermal insulation. [88] NICMOS contained a heat sink of solid nitrogen to reduce the thermal noise from the instrument, but shortly after it was installed, an unexpected thermal expansion resulted in part of the heat sink coming into contact with an optical baffle. This led to an increased warming rate for the instrument and reduced its original expected lifetime of 4.5 years to about two years. [89]

                        Servicing Mission 3A Edit

                        Servicing Mission 3A, flown by Discovery, took place in December 1999, and was a split-off from Servicing Mission 3 after three of the six onboard gyroscopes had failed. The fourth failed a few weeks before the mission, rendering the telescope incapable of performing scientific observations. The mission replaced all six gyroscopes, replaced a Fine Guidance Sensor and the computer, installed a Voltage/temperature Improvement Kit (VIK) to prevent battery overcharging, and replaced thermal insulation blankets. [90]

                        Servicing Mission 3B Edit

                        Servicing Mission 3B flown by Columbia in March 2002 saw the installation of a new instrument, with the FOC (which, except for the Fine Guidance Sensors when used for astrometry, was the last of the original instruments) being replaced by the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). This meant COSTAR was no longer required, since all new instruments had built-in correction for the main mirror aberration. [79] The mission also revived NICMOS by installing a closed-cycle cooler [89] and replaced the solar arrays for the second time, providing 30 percent more power. [91]

                        Servicing Mission 4 Edit

                        Plans called for Hubble to be serviced in February 2005, but the Columbia disaster in 2003, in which the orbiter disintegrated on re-entry into the atmosphere, had wide-ranging effects to the Hubble program and other NASA missions. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe decided all future shuttle missions had to be able to reach the safe haven of the International Space Station should in-flight problems develop. As no shuttles were capable of reaching both HST and the space station during the same mission, future crewed service missions were canceled. [92] This decision was criticised by numerous astronomers who felt Hubble was valuable enough to merit the human risk. [93] HST's planned successor, the James Webb Telescope (JWST), as of 2004 was not expected to launch until at least 2011. A gap in space-observing capabilities between a decommissioning of Hubble and the commissioning of a successor was of major concern to many astronomers, given the significant scientific impact of HST. [94] The consideration that JWST will not be located in low Earth orbit, and therefore cannot be easily upgraded or repaired in the event of an early failure, only made concerns more acute. On the other hand, many astronomers felt strongly that servicing Hubble should not take place if the expense were to come from the JWST budget.

                        In January 2004, O'Keefe said he would review his decision to cancel the final servicing mission to HST, due to public outcry and requests from Congress for NASA to look for a way to save it. The National Academy of Sciences convened an official panel, which recommended in July 2004 that the HST should be preserved despite the apparent risks. Their report urged "NASA should take no actions that would preclude a space shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope". [95] In August 2004, O'Keefe asked Goddard Space Flight Center to prepare a detailed proposal for a robotic service mission. These plans were later canceled, the robotic mission being described as "not feasible". [96] In late 2004, several Congressional members, led by Senator Barbara Mikulski, held public hearings and carried on a fight with much public support (including thousands of letters from school children across the U.S.) to get the Bush Administration and NASA to reconsider the decision to drop plans for a Hubble rescue mission. [97]

                        The nomination in April 2005 of a new NASA Administrator, Michael D. Griffin, changed the situation, as Griffin stated he would consider a crewed servicing mission. [98] Soon after his appointment Griffin authorized Goddard to proceed with preparations for a crewed Hubble maintenance flight, saying he would make the final decision after the next two shuttle missions. In October 2006 Griffin gave the final go-ahead, and the 11-day mission by Atlantis was scheduled for October 2008. Hubble's main data-handling unit failed in September 2008, [99] halting all reporting of scientific data until its back-up was brought online on October 25, 2008. [100] Since a failure of the backup unit would leave the HST helpless, the service mission was postponed to incorporate a replacement for the primary unit. [99]

                        Servicing Mission 4 (SM4), flown by Atlantis in May 2009, was the last scheduled shuttle mission for HST. [80] [101] SM4 installed the replacement data-handling unit, repaired the ACS and STIS systems, installed improved nickel hydrogen batteries, and replaced other components including all six gyroscopes. SM4 also installed two new observation instruments—Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) [102] —and the Soft Capture and Rendezvous System, which will enable the future rendezvous, capture, and safe disposal of Hubble by either a crewed or robotic mission. [103] Except for the ACS's High Resolution Channel, which could not be repaired and was disabled, [104] [105] [106] the work accomplished during SM4 rendered the telescope fully functional. [80]

                        Since the start of the program, a number of research projects have been carried out, some of them almost solely with Hubble, others coordinated facilities such as Chandra X-ray Observatory and ESO's Very Large Telescope. Although the Hubble observatory is nearing the end of its life, there are still major projects scheduled for it. One example is the upcoming Frontier Fields program, [107] inspired by the results of Hubble's deep observation of the galaxy cluster Abell 1689. [108]

                        Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey Edit

                        In an August 2013 press release, CANDELS was referred to as "the largest project in the history of Hubble". The survey "aims to explore galactic evolution in the early Universe, and the very first seeds of cosmic structure at less than one billion years after the Big Bang." [109] The CANDELS project site describes the survey's goals as the following: [110]

                        The Cosmic Assembly Near-IR Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey is designed to document the first third of galactic evolution from z = 8 to 1.5 via deep imaging of more than 250,000 galaxies with WFC3/IR and ACS. It will also find the first Type Ia SNe beyond z > 1.5 and establish their accuracy as standard candles for cosmology. Five premier multi-wavelength sky regions are selected each has multi-wavelength data from Spitzer and other facilities, and has extensive spectroscopy of the brighter galaxies. The use of five widely separated fields mitigates cosmic variance and yields statistically robust and complete samples of galaxies down to 10 9 solar masses out to z

                        Frontier Fields program Edit

                        The program, officially named "Hubble Deep Fields Initiative 2012", is aimed to advance the knowledge of early galaxy formation by studying high-redshift galaxies in blank fields with the help of gravitational lensing to see the "faintest galaxies in the distant universe". [107] The Frontier Fields web page describes the goals of the program being:

                        • to reveal hitherto inaccessible populations of z = 5–10 galaxies that are ten to fifty times fainter intrinsically than any presently known
                        • to solidify our understanding of the stellar masses and star formation histories of sub-L* galaxies at the earliest times
                        • to provide the first statistically meaningful morphological characterization of star forming galaxies at z > 5
                        • to find z > 8 galaxies stretched out enough by cluster lensing to discern internal structure and/or magnified enough by cluster lensing for spectroscopic follow-up. [111]

                        Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) Edit

                        The Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) [112] is an astronomical survey designed to probe the formation and evolution of galaxies as a function of both cosmic time (redshift) and the local galaxy environment. The survey covers a two square degree equatorial field with spectroscopy and X-ray to radio imaging by most of the major space-based telescopes and a number of large ground based telescopes, [113] making it a key focus region of extragalactic astrophysics. COSMOS was launched in 2006 as the largest project pursued by the Hubble Space Telescope at the time, and still is the largest continuous area of sky covered for the purposes of mapping deep space in blank fields, 2.5 times the area of the moon on the sky and 17 times larger than the largest of the CANDELS regions. The COSMOS scientific collaboration that was forged from the initial COSMOS survey is the largest and longest-running extragalactic collaboration, known for its collegiality and openness. The study of galaxies in their environment can be done only with large areas of the sky, larger than a half square degree. [114] More than two million galaxies are detected, spanning 90% of the age of the Universe. The COSMOS collaboration is led by Caitlin Casey, Jeyhan Kartaltepe, and Vernesa Smolcic and involves more than 200 scientists in a dozen countries. [112]

                        Policy Edit

                        Anyone can apply for time on the telescope there are no restrictions on nationality or academic affiliation, but funding for analysis is available only to U.S. institutions. [115] Competition for time on the telescope is intense, with about one-fifth of the proposals submitted in each cycle earning time on the schedule. [116] [117]

                        Proposals Edit

                        Calls for proposals are issued roughly annually, with time allocated for a cycle lasting about one year. Proposals are divided into several categories "general observer" proposals are the most common, covering routine observations. "Snapshot observations" are those in which targets require only 45 minutes or less of telescope time, including overheads such as acquiring the target. Snapshot observations are used to fill in gaps in the telescope schedule that cannot be filled by regular general observer programs. [118]

                        Astronomers may make "Target of Opportunity" proposals, in which observations are scheduled if a transient event covered by the proposal occurs during the scheduling cycle. In addition, up to 10% of the telescope time is designated "director's discretionary" (DD) time. Astronomers can apply to use DD time at any time of year, and it is typically awarded for study of unexpected transient phenomena such as supernovae. [119]

                        Other uses of DD time have included the observations that led to views of the Hubble Deep Field and Hubble Ultra Deep Field, and in the first four cycles of telescope time, observations that were carried out by amateur astronomers.

                        Public image processing of Hubble data is encouraged as most of the data in the archives has not been processed into color imagery. [120]

                        Use by amateur astronomers Edit

                        The first director of STScI, Riccardo Giacconi, announced in 1986 that he intended to devote some of his director discretionary time to allowing amateur astronomers to use the telescope. The total time to be allocated was only a few hours per cycle but excited great interest among amateur astronomers. [121]

                        Proposals for amateur time were stringently reviewed by a committee of amateur astronomers, and time was awarded only to proposals that were deemed to have genuine scientific merit, did not duplicate proposals made by professionals, and required the unique capabilities of the space telescope. Thirteen amateur astronomers were awarded time on the telescope, with observations being carried out between 1990 and 1997. [122] One such study was "Transition Comets—UV Search for OH". The first proposal, "A Hubble Space Telescope Study of Posteclipse Brightening and Albedo Changes on Io", was published in Icarus, [123] a journal devoted to solar system studies. A second study from another group of amateurs was also published in Icarus. [124] After that time, however, budget reductions at STScI made the support of work by amateur astronomers untenable, and no additional amateur programs have been carried out. [122] [125]

                        Regular Hubble proposals still include findings or discovered objects by amateurs and citizen scientists. These observations are often in a collaboration with professional astronomers. One of earliest such observations is the Great White Spot of 1990 [126] on planet Saturn, discovered by amateur astronomer S. Wilber [127] and observed by HST under a proposal by J. Westphal (Caltech). [128] [129] Later professional-amateur observations by Hubble include discoveries by the Galaxy Zoo project, such as Voorwerpjes and Green Pea galaxies. [130] [131] The "Gems of the Galaxies" program is based on a list of objects by galaxy zoo volunteers that was shortened with the help of an online vote. [132] Additionally there are observations of minor planets discovered by amateur astronomers, such as 2I/Borisov and changes in the atmosphere of the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn or the ice giants Uranus and Neptune. [133] [134] In the pro-am collaboration backyard worlds the HST was used to observe a planetary mass object, called WISE J0830+2837. The non-detection by the HST helped to classify this peculiar object. [135]

                        Key projects Edit

                        In the early 1980s, NASA and STScI convened four panels to discuss key projects. These were projects that were both scientifically important and would require significant telescope time, which would be explicitly dedicated to each project. This guaranteed that these particular projects would be completed early, in case the telescope failed sooner than expected. The panels identified three such projects: 1) a study of the nearby intergalactic medium using quasar absorption lines to determine the properties of the intergalactic medium and the gaseous content of galaxies and groups of galaxies [136] 2) a medium deep survey using the Wide Field Camera to take data whenever one of the other instruments was being used [137] and 3) a project to determine the Hubble constant within ten percent by reducing the errors, both external and internal, in the calibration of the distance scale. [138]

                        Important discoveries Edit

                        Hubble has helped resolve some long-standing problems in astronomy, while also raising new questions. Some results have required new theories to explain them.

                        Age of the universe Edit

                        Among its primary mission targets was to measure distances to Cepheid variable stars more accurately than ever before, and thus constrain the value of the Hubble constant, the measure of the rate at which the universe is expanding, which is also related to its age. Before the launch of HST, estimates of the Hubble constant typically had errors of up to 50%, but Hubble measurements of Cepheid variables in the Virgo Cluster and other distant galaxy clusters provided a measured value with an accuracy of ±10%, which is consistent with other more accurate measurements made since Hubble's launch using other techniques. [139] The estimated age is now about 13.7 billion years, but before the Hubble Telescope, scientists predicted an age ranging from 10 to 20 billion years. [140]

                        Expansion of the universe Edit

                        While Hubble helped to refine estimates of the age of the universe, it also cast doubt on theories about its future. Astronomers from the High-z Supernova Search Team and the Supernova Cosmology Project used ground-based telescopes and HST to observe distant supernovae and uncovered evidence that, far from decelerating under the influence of gravity, the expansion of the universe may in fact be accelerating. Three members of these two groups have subsequently been awarded Nobel Prizes for their discovery. [141] The cause of this acceleration remains poorly understood [142] the most common cause attributed is dark energy. [143]

                        Black holes Edit

                        The high-resolution spectra and images provided by the HST have been especially well-suited to establishing the prevalence of black holes in the center of nearby galaxies. While it had been hypothesized in the early 1960s that black holes would be found at the centers of some galaxies, and astronomers in the 1980s identified a number of good black hole candidates, work conducted with Hubble shows that black holes are probably common to the centers of all galaxies. [144] [145] [146] The Hubble programs further established that the masses of the nuclear black holes and properties of the galaxies are closely related. The legacy of the Hubble programs on black holes in galaxies is thus to demonstrate a deep connection between galaxies and their central black holes.

                        Extending visible wavelength images Edit

                        A unique window on the Universe enabled by Hubble are the Hubble Deep Field, Hubble Ultra-Deep Field, and Hubble Extreme Deep Field images, which used Hubble's unmatched sensitivity at visible wavelengths to create images of small patches of sky that are the deepest ever obtained at optical wavelengths. The images reveal galaxies billions of light years away, and have generated a wealth of scientific papers, providing a new window on the early Universe. The Wide Field Camera 3 improved the view of these fields in the infrared and ultraviolet, supporting the discovery of some of the most distant objects yet discovered, such as MACS0647-JD.

                        The non-standard object SCP 06F6 was discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope in February 2006. [147] [148]

                        On March 3, 2016, researchers using Hubble data announced the discovery of the farthest known galaxy to date: GN-z11. The Hubble observations occurred on February 11, 2015, and April 3, 2015, as part of the CANDELS/GOODS-North surveys. [149] [150]

                        Solar System discoveries Edit

                        HST has also been used to study objects in the outer reaches of the Solar System, including the dwarf planets Pluto [151] and Eris. [152]

                        The collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter in 1994 was fortuitously timed for astronomers, coming just a few months after Servicing Mission 1 had restored Hubble's optical performance. Hubble images of the planet were sharper than any taken since the passage of Voyager 2 in 1979, and were crucial in studying the dynamics of the collision of a comet with Jupiter, an event believed to occur once every few centuries.

                        During June and July 2012, U.S. astronomers using Hubble discovered Styx, a tiny fifth moon orbiting Pluto. [153]

                        In March 2015, researchers announced that measurements of aurorae around Ganymede, one of Jupiter's moons, revealed that it has a subsurface ocean. Using Hubble to study the motion of its aurorae, the researchers determined that a large saltwater ocean was helping to suppress the interaction between Jupiter's magnetic field and that of Ganymede. The ocean is estimated to be 100 km (60 mi) deep, trapped beneath a 150 km (90 mi) ice crust. [154] [155]

                        From June to August 2015, Hubble was used to search for a Kuiper belt object (KBO) target for the New Horizons Kuiper Belt Extended Mission (KEM) when similar searches with ground telescopes failed to find a suitable target. [156] This resulted in the discovery of at least five new KBOs, including the eventual KEM target, 486958 Arrokoth, that New Horizons performed a close fly-by of on January 1, 2019. [157] [158] [159]

                        In August 2020, taking advantage of a total lunar eclipse, astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have detected Earth's own brand of sunscreen – ozone – in our atmosphere. This method simulates how astronomers and astrobiology researchers will search for evidence of life beyond Earth by observing potential "biosignatures" on exoplanets (planets around other stars). [160]

                        Supernova reappearance Edit

                        On December 11, 2015, Hubble captured an image of the first-ever predicted reappearance of a supernova, dubbed "Refsdal", which was calculated using different mass models of a galaxy cluster whose gravity is warping the supernova's light. The supernova was previously seen in November 2014 behind galaxy cluster MACS J1149.5+2223 as part of Hubble's Frontier Fields program. Astronomers spotted four separate images of the supernova in an arrangement known as an Einstein Cross. The light from the cluster has taken about five billion years to reach Earth, though the supernova exploded some 10 billion years ago. Based on early lens models, a fifth image was predicted to reappear by the end of 2015. [162] The detection of Refsdal's reappearance in December 2015 served as a unique opportunity for astronomers to test their models of how mass, especially dark matter, is distributed within this galaxy cluster. [163]

                        Mass and size of Milky Way Edit

                        In March 2019, observations from Hubble and data from the European Space Agency's Gaia space observatory were combined to determine that the Milky Way Galaxy weighs approximately 1.5 trillion solar units and has a radius of 129,000 light years. [164]

                        Other discoveries Edit

                        Other discoveries made with Hubble data include proto-planetary disks (proplyds) in the Orion Nebula [165] evidence for the presence of extrasolar planets around Sun-like stars [166] and the optical counterparts of the still-mysterious gamma-ray bursts. [167]

                        Impact on astronomy Edit

                        Many objective measures show the positive impact of Hubble data on astronomy. Over 15,000 papers based on Hubble data have been published in peer-reviewed journals, [168] and countless more have appeared in conference proceedings. Looking at papers several years after their publication, about one-third of all astronomy papers have no citations, while only two percent of papers based on Hubble data have no citations. On average, a paper based on Hubble data receives about twice as many citations as papers based on non-Hubble data. Of the 200 papers published each year that receive the most citations, about 10% are based on Hubble data. [169]

                        Although the HST has clearly helped astronomical research, its financial cost has been large. A study on the relative astronomical benefits of different sizes of telescopes found that while papers based on HST data generate 15 times as many citations as a 4 m (13 ft) ground-based telescope such as the William Herschel Telescope, the HST costs about 100 times as much to build and maintain. [170]

                        Deciding between building ground- versus space-based telescopes is complex. Even before Hubble was launched, specialized ground-based techniques such as aperture masking interferometry had obtained higher-resolution optical and infrared images than Hubble would achieve, though restricted to targets about 10 8 times brighter than the faintest targets observed by Hubble. [171] [172] Since then, advances in adaptive optics have extended the high-resolution imaging capabilities of ground-based telescopes to the infrared imaging of faint objects. The usefulness of adaptive optics versus HST observations depends strongly on the particular details of the research questions being asked. In the visible bands, adaptive optics can correct only a relatively small field of view, whereas HST can conduct high-resolution optical imaging over a wide field. Only a small fraction of astronomical objects are accessible to high-resolution ground-based imaging in contrast Hubble can perform high-resolution observations of any part of the night sky, and on objects that are extremely faint.

                        Impact on aerospace engineering Edit

                        In addition to its scientific results, Hubble has also made significant contributions to aerospace engineering, in particular the performance of systems in low Earth orbit (LEO). These insights result from Hubble's long lifetime on orbit, extensive instrumentation, and return of assemblies to the Earth where they can be studied in detail. In particular, Hubble has contributed to studies of the behavior of graphite composite structures in vacuum, optical contamination from residual gas and human servicing, radiation damage to electronics and sensors, and the long term behavior of multi-layer insulation. [173] One lesson learned was that gyroscopes assembled using pressurized oxygen to deliver suspension fluid were prone to failure due to electric wire corrosion. Gyroscopes are now assembled using pressurized nitrogen. [174] Another is that optical surfaces in LEO can have surprisingly long lifetimes Hubble was only expected to last 15 years before the mirror became unusable, but after 14 years there was no measureable degradation. [93] Finally, Hubble servicing missions, particularly those that serviced components not designed for in-space maintenance, have contributed towards the development of new tools and techniques for on-orbit repair. [175]

                        Transmission to Earth Edit

                        Hubble data was initially stored on the spacecraft. When launched, the storage facilities were old-fashioned reel-to-reel tape recorders, but these were replaced by solid state data storage facilities during servicing missions 2 and 3A. About twice daily, the Hubble Space Telescope radios data to a satellite in the geosynchronous Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS), which then downlinks the science data to one of two 60-foot (18-meter) diameter high-gain microwave antennas located at the White Sands Test Facility in White Sands, New Mexico. [177] From there they are sent to the Space Telescope Operations Control Center at Goddard Space Flight Center, and finally to the Space Telescope Science Institute for archiving. [177] Each week, HST downlinks approximately 140 gigabits of data. [2]

                        Color images Edit

                        All images from Hubble are monochromatic grayscale, taken through a variety of filters, each passing specific wavelengths of light, and incorporated in each camera. Color images are created by combining separate monochrome images taken through different filters. This process can also create false-color versions of images including infrared and ultraviolet channels, where infrared is typically rendered as a deep red and ultraviolet is rendered as a deep blue. [178] [179] [180]

                        Archives Edit

                        All Hubble data is eventually made available via the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes at STScI, [181] CADC [182] and ESA/ESAC. [183] Data is usually proprietary—available only to the principal investigator (PI) and astronomers designated by the PI—for twelve months after being taken. The PI can apply to the director of the STScI to extend or reduce the proprietary period in some circumstances. [184]

                        Observations made on Director's Discretionary Time are exempt from the proprietary period, and are released to the public immediately. Calibration data such as flat fields and dark frames are also publicly available straight away. All data in the archive is in the FITS format, which is suitable for astronomical analysis but not for public use. [185] The Hubble Heritage Project processes and releases to the public a small selection of the most striking images in JPEG and TIFF formats. [186]

                        Pipeline reduction Edit

                        Astronomical data taken with CCDs must undergo several calibration steps before they are suitable for astronomical analysis. STScI has developed sophisticated software that automatically calibrates data when they are requested from the archive using the best calibration files available. This 'on-the-fly' processing means large data requests can take a day or more to be processed and returned. The process by which data is calibrated automatically is known as 'pipeline reduction', and is increasingly common at major observatories. Astronomers may if they wish retrieve the calibration files themselves and run the pipeline reduction software locally. This may be desirable when calibration files other than those selected automatically need to be used. [187]

                        Data analysis Edit

                        Hubble data can be analyzed using many different packages. STScI maintains the custom-made Space Telescope Science Data Analysis System (STSDAS) software, which contains all the programs needed to run pipeline reduction on raw data files, as well as many other astronomical image processing tools, tailored to the requirements of Hubble data. The software runs as a module of IRAF, a popular astronomical data reduction program. [188]

                        It has always been important for the Space Telescope to capture the public's imagination, given the considerable contribution of taxpayers to its construction and operational costs. [189] After the difficult early years when the faulty mirror severely dented Hubble's reputation with the public, the first servicing mission allowed its rehabilitation as the corrected optics produced numerous remarkable images.

                        Several initiatives have helped to keep the public informed about Hubble activities. In the United States, outreach efforts are coordinated by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) Office for Public Outreach, which was established in 2000 to ensure that U.S. taxpayers saw the benefits of their investment in the space telescope program. To that end, STScI operates the HubbleSite.org website. The Hubble Heritage Project, operating out of the STScI, provides the public with high-quality images of the most interesting and striking objects observed. The Heritage team is composed of amateur and professional astronomers, as well as people with backgrounds outside astronomy, and emphasizes the aesthetic nature of Hubble images. The Heritage Project is granted a small amount of time to observe objects which, for scientific reasons, may not have images taken at enough wavelengths to construct a full-color image. [186]

                        Since 1999, the leading Hubble outreach group in Europe has been the Hubble European Space Agency Information Centre (HEIC). [190] This office was established at the Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility in Munich, Germany. HEIC's mission is to fulfill HST outreach and education tasks for the European Space Agency. The work is centered on the production of news and photo releases that highlight interesting Hubble results and images. These are often European in origin, and so increase awareness of both ESA's Hubble share (15%) and the contribution of European scientists to the observatory. ESA produces educational material, including a videocast series called Hubblecast designed to share world-class scientific news with the public. [191]

                        The Hubble Space Telescope has won two Space Achievement Awards from the Space Foundation, for its outreach activities, in 2001 and 2010. [192]

                        A replica of the Hubble Space Telescope is on the courthouse lawn in Marshfield, Missouri, the hometown of namesake Edwin P. Hubble.

                        Celebration images Edit

                        The Hubble Space Telescope celebrated its 20th anniversary in space on April 24, 2010. To commemorate the occasion, NASA, ESA, and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) released an image from the Carina Nebula. [193]

                        To commemorate Hubble's 25th anniversary in space on April 24, 2015, STScI released images of the Westerlund 2 cluster, located about 20,000 light-years (6,100 pc) away in the constellation Carina, through its Hubble 25 website. [194] The European Space Agency created a dedicated 25th anniversary page on its website. [195] In April 2016, a special celebratory image of the Bubble Nebula was released for Hubble's 26th "birthday". [196]

                        Gyroscope rotation sensors Edit

                        HST uses gyroscopes to detect and measure any rotations so it can stabilize itself in orbit and point accurately and steadily at astronomical targets. Three gyroscopes are normally required for operation observations are still possible with two or one, but the area of sky that can be viewed would be somewhat restricted, and observations requiring very accurate pointing are more difficult. [197] In 2018, the plan was to drop into one-gyroscope mode if less than three working gyroscopes were operational. The gyroscopes are part of the Pointing Control System, which uses five types of sensors (magnetic sensors, optical sensors, and the gyroscopes) and two types of actuators (reaction wheels and magnetic torquers). [198] Hubble carries six gyroscopes in total.

                        After the Columbia disaster in 2003, it was unclear whether another servicing mission would be possible, and gyroscope life became a concern again, so engineers developed new software for two-gyroscope and one-gyroscope modes to maximize the potential lifetime. The development was successful, and in 2005, it was decided to switch to two-gyroscope mode for regular telescope operations as a means of extending the lifetime of the mission. The switch to this mode was made in August 2005, leaving Hubble with two gyroscopes in use, two on backup, and two inoperable. [199] One more gyroscope failed in 2007. [200]

                        By the time of the final repair mission in May 2009, during which all six gyroscopes were replaced (with two new pairs and one refurbished pair), only three were still working. Engineers determined that the gyroscope failures were caused by corrosion of electric wires powering the motor that was initiated by oxygen-pressurized air used to deliver the thick suspending fluid. [174] The new gyroscope models were assembled using pressurized nitrogen [174] and were expected to be much more reliable. [201] In the 2009 servicing mission all six gyroscopes were replaced, and after almost ten years only three gyroscopes failed, and only after exceeding the average expected run time for the design. [202]

                        Of the six gyroscopes replaced in 2009, three were of the old design susceptible for flex-lead failure, and three were of the new design with a longer expected lifetime. The first of the old-style gyroscopes failed in March 2014, and the second in April 2018. On October 5, 2018, the last of the old-style gyroscopes failed, and one of the new-style gyroscopes was powered-up from standby state. However, that reserve gyroscope did not immediately perform within operational limits, and so the observatory was placed into "safe" mode while scientists attempted to fix the problem. [203] [204] NASA tweeted on October 22, 2018, that the "rotation rates produced by the backup gyro have reduced and are now within a normal range. Additional tests [are] to be performed to ensure Hubble can return to science operations with this gyro." [205]

                        The solution that restored the backup new-style gyroscope to operational range was widely reported as "turning it off and on again". [206] A "running restart" of the gyroscope was performed, but this had no effect, and the final resolution to the failure was more complex. The failure was attributed to an inconsistency in the fluid surrounding the float within the gyroscope (e.g., an air bubble). On October 18, 2018, the Hubble Operations Team directed the spacecraft into a series of maneuvers—moving the spacecraft in opposite directions—in order to mitigate the inconsistency. Only after the maneuvers, and a subsequent set of maneuvers on October 19, did the gyroscope truly operate within its normal range. [207]

                        Instruments and electronics Edit

                        Past servicing missions have exchanged old instruments for new ones, avoiding failure and making new types of science possible. Without servicing missions, all the instruments will eventually fail. In August 2004, the power system of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) failed, rendering the instrument inoperable. The electronics had originally been fully redundant, but the first set of electronics failed in May 2001. [208] This power supply was fixed during Servicing Mission 4 in May 2009.

                        Similarly, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) main camera primary electronics failed in June 2006, and the power supply for the backup electronics failed on January 27, 2007. [209] Only the instrument's Solar Blind Channel (SBC) was operable using the side-1 electronics. A new power supply for the wide angle channel was added during SM 4, but quick tests revealed this did not help the high resolution channel. [210] The Wide Field Channel (WFC) was returned to service by STS-125 in May 2009 but the High Resolution Channel (HRC) remains offline. [211]

                        On January 8, 2019, Hubble entered a partial safe mode following suspected hardware problems in its most advanced instrument, the Wide Field Camera 3 instrument. NASA later reported that the cause of the safe mode within the instrument was a detection of voltage levels out of a defined range. On January 15, 2019, NASA said the cause of the failure was a software problem. Engineering data within the telemetry circuits were not accurate. In addition, all other telemetry within those circuits also contained erroneous values indicating that this was a telemetry issue and not a power supply issue. After resetting the telemetry circuits and associated boards the instrument began functioning again. On January 17, 2019, the device was returned to normal operation and on the same day it completed its first science observations. [212] [213]

                        On June 13, 2021, Hubble's payload computer halted due to a suspected issue with a memory module. An attempt to restart the computer on June 14 failed. Further attempts to switch to one of three other backup memory modules onboard the spacecraft failed on June 18. As of June 19, scientific operations have been suspended while NASA continues to diagnose and resolve the issue. [214] [215]

                        Orbital decay and controlled reentry Edit

                        Hubble orbits the Earth in the extremely tenuous upper atmosphere, and over time its orbit decays due to drag. If not reboosted, it will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere within some decades, with the exact date depending on how active the Sun is and its impact on the upper atmosphere. If Hubble were to descend in a completely uncontrolled re-entry, parts of the main mirror and its support structure would probably survive, leaving the potential for damage or even human fatalities. [216] In 2013, deputy project manager James Jeletic projected that Hubble could survive into the 2020s. [4] Based on solar activity and atmospheric drag, or lack thereof, a natural atmospheric reentry for Hubble will occur between 2028 and 2040. [4] [217] In June 2016, NASA extended the service contract for Hubble until June 2021. [218]

                        NASA's original plan for safely de-orbiting Hubble was to retrieve it using a Space Shuttle. Hubble would then have most likely been displayed in the Smithsonian Institution. This is no longer possible since the Space Shuttle fleet has been retired, and would have been unlikely in any case due to the cost of the mission and risk to the crew. Instead, NASA considered adding an external propulsion module to allow controlled re-entry. [219] Ultimately, in 2009, as part of Servicing Mission 4, the last servicing mission by the Space Shuttle, NASA installed the Soft Capture Mechanism (SCM), to enable deorbit by either a crewed or robotic mission. The SCM, together with the Relative Navigation System (RNS), mounted on the Shuttle to collect data to "enable NASA to pursue numerous options for the safe de-orbit of Hubble", constitute the Soft Capture and Rendezvous System (SCRS). [103] [220]

                        Possible service missions Edit

                        As of 2017 [update] , the Trump Administration was considering a proposal by the Sierra Nevada Corporation to use a crewed version of its Dream Chaser spacecraft to service Hubble some time in the 2020s both as a continuation of its scientific capabilities and as insurance against any malfunctions in the to-be-launched James Webb Space Telescope. [221] In 2020, John Grunsfeld said that SpaceX Crew Dragon or Orion could perform another repair mission within ten years. While robotic technology is not yet sophisticated enough, he said, with another manned visit "We could keep Hubble going for another few decades" with new gyros and instruments. [222]

                        Successors Edit

                        Visible spectrum range
                        Color Wavelength
                        violet 380–450 nm
                        blue 450–475 nm
                        cyan 476–495 nm
                        green 495–570 nm
                        yellow 570–590 nm
                        orange 590–620 nm
                        red 620–750 nm

                        There is no direct replacement to Hubble as an ultraviolet and visible light space telescope, because near-term space telescopes do not duplicate Hubble's wavelength coverage (near-ultraviolet to near-infrared wavelengths), instead concentrating on the further infrared bands. These bands are preferred for studying high redshift and low-temperature objects, objects generally older and farther away in the universe. These wavelengths are also difficult or impossible to study from the ground, justifying the expense of a space-based telescope. Large ground-based telescopes can image some of the same wavelengths as Hubble, sometimes challenge HST in terms of resolution by using adaptive optics (AO), have much larger light-gathering power, and can be upgraded more easily, but cannot yet match Hubble's excellent resolution over a wide field of view with the very dark background of space.

                        Plans for a Hubble successor materialized as the Next Generation Space Telescope project, which culminated in plans for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the formal successor of Hubble. [223] Very different from a scaled-up Hubble, it is designed to operate colder and farther away from the Earth at the L2 Lagrangian point, where thermal and optical interference from the Earth and Moon are lessened. It is not engineered to be fully serviceable (such as replaceable instruments), but the design includes a docking ring to enable visits from other spacecraft. [224] A main scientific goal of JWST is to observe the most distant objects in the universe, beyond the reach of existing instruments. It is expected to detect stars in the early Universe approximately 280 million years older than stars HST now detects. [225] The telescope is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency since 1996, [226] and is planned for launch on an Ariane 5 rocket. [227] Although JWST is primarily an infrared instrument, its coverage extends down to 600 nm wavelength light, or roughly orange in the visible spectrum. A typical human eye can see to about 750 nm wavelength light, so there is some overlap with the longest visible wavelength bands, including orange and red light.

                        A complementary telescope, looking at even longer wavelengths than Hubble or JWST, was the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory, launched on May 14, 2009. Like JWST, Herschel was not designed to be serviced after launch, and had a mirror substantially larger than Hubble's, but observed only in the far infrared and submillimeter. It needed helium coolant, of which it ran out on April 29, 2013.

                        Selected space telescopes and instruments [228]
                        Name Year Wavelength Aperture
                        Human eye 0.39–0.75 μm 0.01 m
                        Spitzer 2003 3–180 μm 0.85 m
                        Hubble STIS 1997 0.115–1.03 μm 2.4 m
                        Hubble WFC3 2009 0.2–1.7 μm 2.4 m
                        Herschel 2009 55–672 μm 3.5 m
                        JWST Planned 0.6–28.5 μm 6.5 m

                        Further concepts for advanced 21st-century space telescopes include the Large Ultraviolet Optical Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR), [229] a conceptualized 8 to 16.8 meters (310 to 660 inches) optical space telescope that if realized could be a more direct successor to HST, with the ability to observe and photograph astronomical objects in the visible, ultraviolet, and infrared wavelengths, with substantially better resolution than Hubble or the Spitzer Space telescope. This effort is being planned for the 2025–2035 time frame.

                        Existing ground-based telescopes, and various proposed Extremely Large Telescopes, can exceed the HST in terms of sheer light-gathering power and diffraction limit due to larger mirrors, but other factors affect telescopes. In some cases, they may be able to match or exceed Hubble in resolution by using adaptive optics (AO). However, AO on large ground-based reflectors will not make Hubble and other space telescopes obsolete. Most AO systems sharpen the view over a very narrow field—Lucky Cam, for example, produces crisp images just 10 to 20 arcseconds wide, whereas Hubble's cameras produce crisp images across a 150 arcsecond (2½ arcminutes) field. Furthermore, space telescopes can study the universe across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, most of which is blocked by Earth's atmosphere. Finally, the background sky is darker in space than on the ground, because air absorbs solar energy during the day and then releases it at night, producing a faint—but nevertheless discernible—airglow that washes out low-contrast astronomical objects. [230]