Wednesday, February 25, 2015

National Air and Space Museum Celebrates Hubble’s 25th Anniversary

Hubble Test Telescope (Photo: National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)

From our friends at Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum...

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will mark the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope with diverse programming this spring, including lectures, educational programming and family activities. Events at the museum’s National Mall building and its Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., will focus on Hubble’s numerous accomplishments and what it will help scientists learn in the future.

The Hubble Space Telescope is the largest astronomical telescope ever sent into space. It launched in 1990 from Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-31 mission and was designed to be serviced periodically in space by Shuttle astronauts. The telescope is continuing to provide astronomers with fascinating new information on the state of the universe. Some of its breakthroughs include the discovery of the unexplained phenomenon of dark energy, evidence of black holes and observations of stars in the last stages of their lives.

The museum’s ongoing Exploring Space lecture series will have a Hubble theme this year to mark the anniversary. Presenters will discuss some of the most innovative science performed using Hubble and insights into the universe it has uncovered. They will also explore the telescope’s serviceability, design, administration, execution and place in history. The first lecture of the series takes place Feb. 26.

Harvard professor Robert Kirshner will present the John N. Bahcall Lecture April 22 at the museum in Washington. He will discuss how Hubble is used to understand the dark energy that causes cosmic acceleration.

Hubble will be a focus of the activities at this year’s “Explore the Universe” family day April 11 at the National Mall building, and the Udvar-Hazy Center will host a “Hubble Space Telescope 25th Anniversary” family day April 25. Visitors can attend presentations and panels given by the astronauts that worked on Hubble, learn about the astronomical advances it made possible and participate in educational activities for all ages.

To extend anniversary events beyond the museum walls, the April 22 edition of the online educational series, What’s New in Aerospace?, will also focus on Hubble. What’s New in Aerospace? is a series presented in collaboration with NASA that is broadcasted live on the museum’s website, and it is open to the public at the Washington museum.

A number of artifacts are on permanent display throughout the museum that relate to Hubble, such as the Hubble Space Telescope Structural Dynamic Test Vehicle in the Space Race gallery, which has been at the museum in Washington since 1989. This full-sized test vehicle served as a frame on which the cables and wiring harnesses for the actual spacecraft were fabricated. It was also used for simulations in developing maintenance and repair activities in orbit. “Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity” is also on display at the museum until June 8. This exhibition examines the history of spacewalks, including those done to service Hubble.

The National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport. Both facilities are open daily from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free, but there is a $15 fee for parking at the Udvar-Hazy Center.