Well, it's official: the astronomers are completely ecstatic!  And the science results of the mission are actually just beginning to come in.
 
Ed Weiler starts off the proceedings and echoes thoughts I've had myself recently - he calls the mission "a teachable moment in unparalleled teamwork."
 
He introduces Senator Barbara Mikulski as "the Godmother of Hubble."  Mikulski, in a wheelchair with a cast on her ankle, obviously feels strongly about Hubble; she calls the telescope "one of the greatest forms of public diplomacy that the US has," and reminds us that what Hubble does is open and public and given freely to the world.
Thumbnail image for 384935hubble090909.jpg 
Barred Spiral Galaxy NGC 6217
Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team

She sounds a note of pride as she comments "We thank all our international partners - but when it comes to space, we are the indispensable nation."  And she concludes by saying that Hubble is "about science, it's about discovery, it's about our American character and the future of our children."
 
I'm hearing that the Augustine panel is very close to releasing their report on the future of American human spaceflight (which is rumored to be pessimistic because of lack of funding) and I wonder how much Mikulski intends her comments to sound a defiant note in the face of such uncertainty.
 
Then we get to the specifics.  The new Wide Field Camera is working better than expected.  The camera almost didn't get installed because the one bolt holding in the old camera got stuck - so the line is "Never have so many scientists owed so much to two guys who fixed a stuck bolt."
 

We see some images, which are stunning (more on these to come).  Then we see some spectra from the second new instrument, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph.  These detect basic elements according to their spectra, and show that the building blocks of life are being distributed in space.
 
Then the repairs to two different instruments, both of which were completely dead - "the most complex repairs ever done in space."  Ed Weiler confesses, "If they had just fixed one of them I would have been amazed."  But - beyond all expectations, both the Advanced Camera for Surveys and the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (which had suffered similar electronic failures) are back in business.
 
Weiler concludes: "Let there be no doubt: this is truly Hubble's new beginning."
 
As the crowd begins to disperse, I grab Matt Mountain and ask him if everything is really as rosy as they are making it out to be.  He answers, "It's incredible; we really do have a new telescope.  It's 4-5 times better than we had even hoped."
 
Now I have to try to learn and understand what the new images actually reveal.  More to come...
 

User Comments:

It´s amazing!!!. Is this really the first pfoto taken from the repaired Hubble?

This is really great. I am so glad we have our scope back in high condition!

Amazing pic, and a dangerous job well done by the astronauts. Were it not for their bravery and hard work we would not be discussing what's "out there" and trying to figure out the mysteries of the universe.

How strange is human nature! At one end of the spectrum we have the amazing achievement of rebuilding the Hubble telescope and at the other educators who denied their pupils the opportunity to hear President Obama speak to the school children of America on the value of staying in school, studying and working hard to gain an education. There is something fundamentally wrong with this country.

On this web site is a Watercolor
painting of the Space Shuttle in space delivering.

I am 60 years old and won`t be around much longer, all I can say is thanks guys and gals thanks alot !!!!!!

Why does it take a PBS production to bring this great achievement to my attention? In an atmosphere of gloom and doom this refreshing good news the should be shouted from the top of every TV tower.
An excellent follow up series is HBO's "From the Earth to the Moon" Of the 12 one hour episodes my two favorite are the "Spider" and "Gallileo was right". This series is available on Netflix.

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