December 10, 2009 |
One might think that after centuries of scanning the night skies, mankind would have a pretty clear idea of who our galactic neighbors are, and whether they mean us harm. That's not the case. Vast landscapes of the cosmos remain hidden to us because most of our telescopes plumb the heavens for light that can be seen by the human eye -- and that constitutes only a narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum. "Think of a wall map," said Edward Wright, an astronomy professor at UCLA.
November 24, 2009 |
If there were a Guinness world record for making telescope mirrors, Dean Ketelsen would likely win it. Colleagues boast that the onetime Iowa farm boy has ground and polished more square footage of optics than any human being alive. "It used to be a mysterious thing that hunch-backed people in white coats did," the 55-year-old technician said while taking a break at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab. "Now we use machines to grind the glass. They've taken a lot of the black arts out of it."
October 28, 2009 |
In what they called a medical first in a toddler, surgeons at Stanford University's Lucile Packard Children's Hospital have implanted a telescoping artificial prosthesis in the arm of a 3-year-old to replace a humerus that was removed because of cancer. Nearly a year later, Mark Blinder is thriving and cancer-free. Mark, now 4, developed pain in his right arm in April of last year. By July, oncologists had diagnosed Ewing's sarcoma, a rare bone tumor. Chemotherapy reduced the pain but did not eradicate the tumor.
September 10, 2009 |
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, rebuilt by astronauts, has demonstrated its new powers with a stunning set of images of exploding stars, a stellar nursery, colliding galaxies and the lensing effect of a galactic cluster nearly halfway across the universe. Hubble was repaired and refurbished this year in a series of tense spacewalks by astronauts on the space shuttle Atlantis, all of whom attended a packed briefing Wednesday morning at NASA headquarters. They fixed two broken instruments and installed a new camera, a spectrograph, new batteries and gyroscopes.
September 1, 2009 |
For nearly half a century, the Mt. Wilson Observatory was not only the center of the universe for the study of space science, it taught us just how huge that universe was. At the eyepiece of the observatory's then ground-breaking 100-inch Hooker telescope astronomer Edwin Hubble made two of the most shocking scientific discoveries of the 20th century: The universe was far larger than anyone imagined and it was expanding. Those discoveries knocked man from his cherished place at the seat of creation to the status of a middling creature scuttling across the surface of an obscure planet among trillions of stars.
July 25, 2009 |
One of the world's most powerful telescopes opened its shutters in the Canary Islands to begin exploring faint light from distant parts of the universe. The Gran Telescopio Canarias, a $185-million telescope featuring a 34-foot reflecting mirror, sits atop an extinct volcano. Its perch above cloud cover takes advantage of the pristine skies over the Atlantic Ocean. The observatory is at 7,870 feet above sea level where prevailing winds keep the atmosphere stable and transparent, the Canary Islands Astrophysics Institute said.
May 25, 2009 |
The space shuttle Atlantis and its crew of seven returned to Earth on Sunday at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, announcing its approach with twin sonic booms. Atlantis circled Earth 197 times and traveled 5.3 million miles before ending its daring 13-day mission to refurbish the Hubble Space Telescope. The shuttle, which landed at 8:39 a.m., had been diverted to California after nasty weather prevented a landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
May 23, 2009 |
President Obama will name former astronaut Charles F. Bolden Jr. as NASA administrator, according to three congressional sources. If confirmed by the Senate, the retired Marine Corps general would be the first African American to head the agency. The timing, the sources said, is keyed to the landing of the shuttle Atlantis, which remained in orbit Friday because of bad weather but will return today or Sunday.
May 20, 2009 |
A rejuvenated Hubble Space Telescope, more powerful than ever, departed the space shuttle Tuesday and sailed off for new discoveries. "It's showtime for us now," program scientist Eric Smith said. Hubble -- considered to be at its prime after five days of repairs and upgrades -- was gently dropped overboard by the shuttle Atlantis astronauts, the last humans to see the 19-year-old observatory up close.
May 17, 2009 |
Spacewalking astronauts gave the Hubble Space Telescope a more commanding view of the cosmos by installing a new high-tech instrument Saturday, then pulled off their toughest job yet: fixing a broken camera. It was the third spacewalk in as many days for the shuttle Atlantis crew and probably the most intricate ever performed because of the unprecedented camera repairs. Astronauts had never before tried to take apart a science instrument at the 19-year-old orbiting observatory.