The servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope in early March looks to have been a great success. Four weeks after the servicing mission, the Telescope has been declared healthy and fit...and is frankly, better than ever! Though calibration processes will continue for the next two months, routine science observations are being taken even now. The new Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) still needs final optical alignment and focus checks, but once it does start observing in early May, it is thought that the image quality will be superb!
News story originally written on April 12, 2002
The Shuttle Columbia took astronauts to visit the Hubble and during five space walks, astronauts were able to service the Telescope. Another maintenance mission was undertaken on the Voyager 1 spacecraft...but this time maintenance took place from Earth, as Voyager is 7 billion miles away! This spacecraft was launched in 1977 and was slated as a 4-year mission. Both Voyager spacecraft are still going strong and are currently headed for the heliopause. But, Voyager 1 needed a new position-sensing system, including a Sun sensor and star tracker. Luckily a back up was placed on the spacecraft when it was built. The current Voyager team cautiously activated this sensing system and the back up system was successfully in place as of April 1, 2002.
In other mission news, Cassini has successfully completed a course adjustment and is well on its way to Saturn. Cassini was launched in October 1997 and will arrive at Saturn on July 1, 2004. Just two years to go!