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Steven Hawley — Former NASA Astronaut, Hubble Space Telescope & Chandra X-ray Observatory Missions

December 15, 2021 @ 4:30 pm

In this episode:

We meet Dr. Steven Hawley, Professor Emeritus of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kansas, and former NASA astronaut who’s flown on five Space Shuttle missions. In those missions, Hawley had major roles in the deployment and later upkeep of the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as the launch of the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

 

In our conversation, Dr. Hawley discusses the first telescope he owned, the 1991 Hubble Space Telescope deployment mission, his role in its deployment, why it initially didn’t operate as intended, what it’s told us about our universe, his later role in the launch of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and his thoughts on the upcoming launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.

 

In describing his first space mission deploying the bus-sized Hubble in 1991, Hawley says, “My job was to operate the arm to grasp the telescope, lift it out of the payload bay, and release it. Well, that sounds simple enough on the surface. It actually was quite complicated, and there were a lot of ‘what-ifs’ that we had to think about.”

 

Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom © Copyright 2015, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/50718 Ft: Miss Judged

Filed under Space, Space Foundation, Space4U, NASA, Astronaut, Telescope · Comments

Jonathan Gardner – Deputy Senior Project Scientist, James Webb Space Telescope

February 25, 2021 @ 7:35 pm

In this episode:

We meet Dr. Jonathan Gardner, the Deputy Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope and the Chief of the Laboratory for Observational Cosmology in the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA Goddard. He received his bachelor’s degree in Astronomy in Astrophysics from Harvard University, and then attended graduate school at the University of Hawaii, earning a master’s degree and a PhD in Astronomy. He began working on Webb as a member of the Ad-Hoc Science Working Group in the late 1990s, and then joined the project as the Deputy Senior Project Scientist in 2002.

 

The James Webb Space Telescope project began in 1996 and is currently scheduled for launch on October 31, 2021. It will be the largest and most powerful space telescope ever built and launched into space — 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope, and it promises to fundamentally alter our understandings of the universe. The telescope is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency, and with an almost $10 billion price tag it's one of the most expensive space missions in history.

 

In our conversation, Dr. Gardner explains how Webb will be able to see the first light created in the universe after the big bang 13.5 billion years ago, how it will create a 3D model of our universe together with Hubble, how it’ll have the capability to detect signs of life in the atmospheres of 300+ exoplanets, and he tells us when the public will begin to see images of what Webb is observing.

 

Sharing what he's looking forward to most about the mission, Gardner says, “I’m most excited about the fact that whenever we put up a new capability that is a hundred times better than anything that’s happened before ... we find discoveries that we really were not expecting.”

 

To learn more about the James Webb Space Telescope, visit webb.nasa.gov.

 

Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom © copyright 2015, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/hansatom/50718 Ft: Miss Judged

Filed under Space, Space Foundation, Space4U, NASA, Space Technology, Telescope · Comments

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