October 5, 2018 – NASA announced Hubble slept in a scientifically induced coma. One of three gyroscopes tasked with pointing/steadying Hubble’s telescope malfunctioned, NASA placed Hubble in “safe mode” buying time to find a fix. On October 27, recovery and implementation of a back-up gyro returned Hubble to fully operational mission status.Launched in 1990 by Space Shuttle Discovery, initial life expectancy was 15 years. 28 years later and counting, NASA optimistically suggests tenacious little Hubble might hang in there for 10-20 more. Ponder this –
View top 10 Hubble images at – https://www.scientificamerican.com/slideshow/top-10-images-taken-by-the-hubble-space-telescope/
More troublesome than fretting over a briefly comatose Hubble, is news of Kepler’s demise. Launched in 2009, Kepler searched for alien worlds using the “transit method” ( identifying exoplanets by recognizing diminished light when planets pass in front of their Sun ). Of 3,800 confirmed exoplanets known to date, 70% were discovered by Kepler. Ponder – https://www.space.com/21172-greatest-alien-planet-discoveries-nasa-kepler.html
Science always knew Kepler’s fuel would run dry. Confirmation of Kepler’s passing wasn’t unexpected. That said, in my heart of hearts I imagined a period of remission. RIP Kepler, you served humanity well.
Sunday night Hubble – no need for words….
This is it, in a few hours NASA’s JUNO mission to Jupiter will successfully decelerate into orbit, or drift aimlessly into deep space. Beginning at 7:30 pm pacific time, a live feed from NASA television documents this epic hit or miss, linked below –
While we’re waiting, ponder an image of auroras on Jupiter. Captured by Hubble on May 19, NASA released the image on July 1 as JUNO approached outer reaches of Jupiter’s realm.
View larger. | Aurora on Jupiter. Image via NASA, ESA, and J. Nichols (University of Leicester)
Sit quietly, ponder 13 minutes with Hubble –
7000 light years from Earth, constellation Serpens harbors a gaseous cluster of stars known as the Eagle Nebula. In 1995, Jeff Hester and Paul Scowen used the Hubble telescope to capture iconic images of Eagle’s northeast quadrant. Unimaginably vast columns of dense hydrogen molecules and cosmic dust. Stalwart sentries, resolute as globules wider than our solar system evaporate from twisted crowns. “Pillars Of Creation” embodies cosmic wonder, but for the Hubble Space Telescope, wonder would be harder to find.
April 24, 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope. Instead of pondering the nuts and bolts of Hubble’s quarter century mission – I offer a symphony composed by Russell Steinberg – a musical expression inspired by, and set to images taken by Hubble.