Hubble Release Video

On 18th May the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-125) disconnected from the Hubble Space Telescope after a successful mission to upgrade the instruments and replace a few parts. This is the last servicing mission and it was most likely the final time that humans would be in close, physical contact with Hubble in space. This has been a very special mission for those of us who've grown up with Hubble over the past 19 years.

Of course, only the crew of STS-125 were lucky enough to be there in person. Other Hubble fans had to live vicariously through NASA TV. At the time of the parting I was hugely disappointed to find that there was no live video of the view. This momentuous event was shown via rather disappointing computer simulations and the reactions of the people in the control room at Goddard Space Flight Centre. GSFC employees are great but they don't really cut it compared to seeing the grand old space telescope for the last time.

After a few minutes of speculation on Twitter about the possibility of bad coverage by ground stations over Africa, or cover-up conspiracies, it turned out that the downlink antenna for sending video was being used in radar mode to track Hubble. That was pretty vital so I'll let NASA off on that.

Tonight, after a plea on Twitter for pictures, Alberto Conti (STSci) pointed me to an amazing video on YouTube. The video shows the view, from inside Atlantis, of the final minutes. You see the astronauts preparating for release, moving around in the Shuttle and filming the view out of the window of the Hubble slowly drifting away with the Earth behind. It is a stunning "home video" showing a fascinating perspective that I don't think I've seen before. It is well worth six or seven minutes of your time.

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Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Thursday 21st May 2009 (22:47 BST) | Permalink
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