Saturday, May 16, 2009

Todays Spacewalk to Focus on Optics

Two of Atlantis crew members will venture back outside today to perform an optical change on the Hubble Space Telescope and the removal of corrective lens which restored the observatory to greatness in 1993.

Spacewalking astronauts John Grunsfeld and Andrew Feustel will leave the airlock this morning at about 9:16 am EDT, to begin work to remove COSTAR (Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement) - the optical lens which restored Hubble's blurred vision in December 1993. According to NASA, COSTAR is no longer needed, and will install in its place the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph. The 850 pound COS will allow astronomers to see even better stellar regions of our universe.

The pair will later repair of the Advanced Camera for Surveys, a camera which Mission Control in Houston states, "it has been responsible for some of the most famous imagery captured by Hubble".

The ACS is one of the telescope's advanced primary cameras and stopped working in 2007 due to a short circuit. Grunsfeld and Feustel will remove 32 screws from a panal on Hubble and remove it to replace several electronic parts to restore its ability to function again. It was originally installed in 2002.

Spacewalks on Sunday and Monday will complete the Hubble repairs and upgrades before crewmember Megan McArthur - using the orbiter's robotic arm - is scheduled to redeploy the space telescope just before 9 am EDT on Tuesday.

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