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Hubble: Race to the Photo Finish

Publicist Note: Rush DeNooyer is a producer for NOVA's upcoming Hubble's Amazing Rescue premiering Tuesday, October 13th at 8PM ET/PT on PBS (please check local listings). Tomorrow, Rush will be blogging from the NASA press conference where new photos taken by Hubble will be unveiled.  You can read Rush's notes that chronicle his experience filming the Hubble Mission at Follow the Hubble Repair


It's a little over three months since the mission ended; I haven't blogged since Memorial Day when I got back home to the small Maine town where I live and started trying to put the whole experience in perspective.
 
For the astronauts and engineers, the mission peaked in late May when the shuttle Atlantis brought everyone home safely, with all repairs complete.  For our NOVA team, the mission is peaking over the next few weeks, as we race to finish editing the film, adding music and animation, and creating the ending to the story.  Naturally, the ending won't be complete without the first images from the new Hubble.
 
So today I fly to Maryland, and Wednesday morning Goddard cinematographer Mike McClare and I will go to NASA Headquarters in Washington for a press conference - the eagerly awaited unveiling of the first images from the rejuvenated Hubble.
 
Actually, early this summer they released a sneak preview when a comet unexpectedly slammed into Jupiter and left a huge visible scar.  But other than that, the scientists at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore have been very secretive, as they've been calibrating all the new and repaired instruments.  No images will be seen until tomorrow.
 
I've pumped my sources at the Institute for information though - and they're telling me that all the repairs seem to have worked.  And they expect people to be blown away by all the things the new Hubble will reveal over the coming months.  I guess the analogy is if you had the same digital camera you bought in 1993, and then replaced it with a brand new one - in the case of one new instrument (Wide Field Camera 3), that's the kind of improvement we may see.
 
On Thursday, we'll film some specialized close-ups of some of the unique tools that Goddard engineers designed for this mission.  And then on Friday, we're filming with Dr. Matt Mountain (Director of STScI) to have him explain for us what the new images reveal, what their significance is, and what future hopes he has for this "brand new" 20-year-old space telescope. 
 
The press conference is midday on Wednesday, and I hope to be able to write directly from there - stay tuned!
 
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