NASA's Mr. Fixits give Hubble Space Telescope life-prolonging hardware
Chalk up another stellar spacewalk for astronauts aboard the space shuttle Atlantis.Skip to next paragraph
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In a spacewalk that fell four minutes shy of eight hours long, mission specialists Mike Massimino and Mike Good replaced some of the Hubble Space Telescope's batteries and three gyroscopes -- devices critical to the observatory's ability to navigate the skies. Both sets of hardware passed their "aliveness" and functional tests with flying colors.
"We had a few hurdles we didn't expect, but we completed all the tasks," says Tony Ceccacci, the mission's lead flight director. In fact, the outing went so well that the spacewalkers were able to perform a few extra tasks in preparation for tomorrow's spacewalk, the third of five outings on five consecutive days.
Additional good news came from the team putting the new WFPC3 camera through its paces. David Leckrone, the observatory program's senior scientist, announced that the instrument had successfully completed the second of two key tests since its installation yesterday.
So far, it's working like a champ, although it sees nothing yet with the telescope's lens cap, or aperture door, closed. And it needs to be cooled to very low temperatures to ensure it performs as designed. Scientists expect to take the first images with the new camera about three weeks after the Atlantis returns. In the meantime, engineers will continue to run more detailed tests on the camera as well as begin to chill it.
With half the battery tasks complete, new gyroscopes, and a new data-handling center installed, "we're along way already to greatly extending the longevity of Hubble," Dr. Leckrone says.
The main chin-scratcher of the day involved one of the replacement gyros. It refused to sit perfectly flat in the space designed for it, preventing Dr. Massimino from bolting it into place.