PART 1: A basic outline of the television program
This is what we might call the "content" script, which shows primarily the words intended to accompany the edited, pre-produced sequences.
LIVE FROM THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE draft rundown and script, as of Friday March 8 1996 SUBJECT TO CHANGE, but provided to help prepare students for participation in the live broadcasts: TEACHERS please let us know how useful this material proves to be for you in building "Anticipatory Set" SUBJECT TO FACT CHECKS!
Around their campfires, long before history was written down, humans have wondered about the stars. As civilization began, astronomy drove mathematics and became a science which turned our Universe from a place of random events into one in which the return of the constellations and the predictable orbits of the planets gave life some certainty.
But the heavens have also always summoned humans from everyday concerns to ponder ultimate questions about where we come from, where we're going...
Now, almost every week, the Hubble Space Telescope brings new answers about planets, stars and galaxies, providing astonishing beauty as well as amazing facts... and prompting still more questions.
Now, in this PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE project, for the first time ever, students around the world can get their "hands on" the Hubble, and begin add >their< contribution to humanity's endless quest to understand the Universe around us.
We meet Planet Advocates Heidi Hammel and Marc Buie at STScI, as well as NASA's Dr. Ed Weiler, HST project scientist.
***Sequence 5: HOW THE PROJECT BEGAN (videotape = "VTR")
Scenes from Buhl Planetarium, in Pittsburgh, PA., (taped 12/15/95)
Students were in the driver's seat last November and December, in Pittsburgh's Carnegie Science Center and elsewhere.
December 15, 1995 -- The "Great Planet Debate" was drawing to a close, just before the end of school. Now youngsters like these would help select targets for the first-ever student observations using the Hubble Space Telescope.
Buhl Planetarium presenter, sync: "Now decide!"
It had begun in November 1995 with a "Passport to Knowledge" broadcast announcing this unprecedented opportunity.
The Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates the Hubble for NASA and the European Space Agency, had offered three Hubble orbits for student-directed observations. Four planets would be in favorable positions in March 1996 -- Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto -- and it would take from December to March to make final plans.
HST observation time is a precious commodity and choices had to be made. To help design the observations four world-class astronomers agreed to serve as "Planet Advocates", introducing each planet.
Reta Beebe argued that Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, offered a dramatic, dynamic atmosphere, with colossal storm systems exemplifying weather elsewehre in our solar system.
Carolyn Porco spoke up for Uranus, saying that Hubble could perhaps discover the chemical composition of its faint rings.
Heidi Hammel proposed that since Neptune had bright and dark clouds that seem to appear and disappear very quickly, students might be the first to see some brand-new features.
Marc Buie is a fan of distant Pluto, the only planet not yet explored by spacecraft. He argued that our Hubble orbits could help determine whether Pluto's climate has begun to change as it retreats from its closest approach to the Sun.
The "Great Planet Debate" continued online. With E-Mail coming from across America and around the world, students like these at the Buhl Planetarium researched the options and interacted with the Planet Advocates. Messages poured in from Florida and Alaska, from Maine to Hawaii. Classes participated from Germany, England, Greece, the Ukraine, Japan, Croatia, even remote Nizhny Novgorod in Russia.
Finally in late December, students reached a consensus: One orbit would be devoted to Pluto, in the hope of contributing a little more knowledge about this mysterious place, and two orbits -- eight hours apart -- would be used to study the dynamic atmosphere of Neptune.
As a generous pre-holiday (Christmas) "gift", Planet Advocate Reta Beebe volunteered one orbit from her continuing research on mighty Jupiter to showcase the kind of image processing Marc and Heidi would use to analyze the Neptune and Pluto results, slated to be announced during the April 23 Passport to Knowledge broadcast.
CHANGE OF ORDER: SEQUENCE 6 PRECEDES SEQUENCE 5-A!!! LIVE from Goddard, we see the current status of the telescope
STScI Program Coordinator Tony Roman shows how some planets are safe to view, and some are not (VTR)
How do you plan observations using the Hubble Space Telescope? Last month, students visited Mission Planner Tony Roman for a quick introduction to hitting "Moving Targets." He began with an example from the LFH Teacher's Guide.
Roman, sync (NOT EXACT!): "The HST is very sensitive... you don't want to look at the Sun... in fact you can't look much closer than 50 degrees... a fist at arm's length is about ten degrees and takes up about this much of sky."
To find the positions of the Sun and planets for March 14, Tony showed his visitors how to read tables of Right Ascension and Declination, as found in the Teacher's Guide. These are what astronomers use as latitude and longitude, coordinates for navigating the heavens.
Right Ascension is measured in hours of Universal Time...
Tony, sync (NOT EXACT): "It tells when an object will be overhead in the sky".
Declination indicates how far above or below the Earth's equator the object appears.
First, they found the position of the Sun against the background of fixed stars, and marked it on their charts.
For March 14 the Sun is at 23.6 hours Right Ascension and 2.5 degrees Declination.
Then, each student found the position of a planet: Renee Villard located Saturn, Fredrick Bailey... Neptune and Kristen Polizzi... Pluto.
Tony showed them how to use the "Zone of Solar Avoidance" disk found in the Teacher's Guide. They now saw why Neptune and Pluto would be safe to observe in early March, and other interesting planets would not.
(Renee and Tony interact about why Saturn is too close to the Sun.)
But there are many more constraints on what Hubble can observe. The Moon is also too bright, and planners must consider the positions of communications satellites and Hubble's 95 minute orbit. You need a sophisticated computer program to plot what you >can< observe.
Tony, sync, describes what can be targeted.
To find its targets, Hubble uses "Guide Stars" as a kind of road-map for the heavens. The trick is to find stars that will stay inside the "pickles" during the entire exposure. [Tony, sync, "These will work..."]
Tracking Pluto is not much of a problem: it's very far away and doesn't appear to "wander" much. After all, it takes nearly 250 years to circle the Sun!
Once safe observing times and useable guide stars are identified, programmers prepare software commands that tell the telescope exactly what to do and when to do it
3 questions total, from Washington State, Munich, and online, likely directed to Ed Weiler.
(Teachers, please note there are a LOT of acronyms in the following sequence, as there are throughout any and all NASA programs. People use them because they are useful, but you might want to make this into a "jargon-detection" contest for your students. Who can catch the definitions live, on the fly, or on tape? The acronyms are HST, STScI, STOCC, DOCS, DCF, TDRS, ECF, ESO, ESA, NASA, COSTAR, etc. etc.)
Narration: The HST is both a Telescope AND a Spacecraft... and it takes a whole far-flung space agency to operate it.
Dreams of an orbiting observatory date back at least to 1945, but real planning began during the years of the first Apollo missions to the Moon.
Actual construction began in the early 1980's...
The 2.4 meter primary mirror was supposed to be the most carefully-constructed astronomical device ever built.
April 25, 1990 -- the space shuttle Discovery delivers HST into orbit.
During its first years, the telescope was hampered by a problem with its main mirror, which turned out to be slightly -- but critically -- mis-shapen. But in 1993, the shuttle Endeavour and the "First Servicing Mission" brought corrective optics, COSTAR -- contact lenses for the telescope -- which were installed during several heroic and successful space walks.
Now Hubble began to achieve its full potential.
WE'VE PROBABLY ALL SEEN THE ASTRONAUTS IN ORBIT, BUT DOWN HERE ON EARTH, THERE ARE MANY MORE THOUSANDS OF DEDICATED MEN AND WOMEN, HARD AT WORK BEHIND THE SCENES, THOUGH USUALLY UN-SEEN...
Hubble requires 24-hour a day monitoring by a skilled team of engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center near Greenbelt, Maryland.
[Some Nat Sound]
This is STOCC, the Space Telescope Operations Control Center, nicknamed the "cockpit", where HST's "Flight Crew" monitors the position and attitude of the Space Telescope, the status of data and power systems, and myriad details of its science instruments, on- board computers and mechanical and electrical sub-systems.
Elsewhere at Goddard, NASCOM -- NASA's Communication Network -- links Hubble and other spacecraft such as the Shuttle to more than 2 million miles of cable and fiber optic links, in more than 200 locations. (CHECK!)
Data from the Hubble is relayed by TDRS ("TeeDris") -- the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite -- some 23,000 miles above Earth in "geo- sync"... down to White Sands, New Mexico... then back up to a domestic satellite... and finally back down to Goddard. Commands to Hubble travel back along the same pathway.
Incoming data arrives at DOCS, Data Operations Control, a massive computer facility located right beneath STOCC.
Here, science information is separated from engineering data and routed to DCF, the Data Capture Facility where error-checking systems verify signal quality before it's recorded and relayed on to the Space Telecope Science Institute.
At STScI the signals are checked once more to ensure the observations were correctly performed. The raw data is re- calibrated to compensate for known variations in the instruments.
Final science data is recorded on optical discs, each the equivalent of a dozen CD-ROMs, for archiving and distribution to the astronomers who may have first designed the observations years and months before!
There's a duplicate archive in Garching, Germany, at the European Coordinating Facility, ECF, which is where our German participants in today's broadcast are located. This is part of the European South Observatory, ESO.
Meanwhile, Engineering Support Specialists at Goddard analyze records of all spacecraft systems -- they've got data on more than 7,000 engineering measurements taken every few seconds (CHECK), 24 hours a day, since HST was first launched in 1990!
This team looked on with special interest as STS-75 (CHECK!) launched in February 1996. They're now getting ready for the >Second< Servicing Mission, sometime in Spring 1997, which will upgrade more of Hubble's systems.
SOON THE ASTRONAUTS WHO WILL CREW THAT MISSION WILL BEGIN REHEARSALS FOR THEIR COMPLEX SPACEWALKS, USING HUGE "WET TANKS" AT JOHNSON SPACE CENTER AND ELSEWHERE FOR PRACTISE.
Future activities are planned by the Programming and Scheduling team. Weeks in advance they prepare software commands which specify both science observations and "housekeeping chores" for each orbit for upload to HST via TDRS.
Competition is keen for HST observing time. Only one of every ten proposals is accepted, so every observation is special.
And the far-flung HST support team is there, every second of every day, to ensure spacecraft "health and safety" and spectacular science returns!
During unique events like the collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter in 1994, things can get pretty frantic as well as spectacular, as you can see when astronomers Heidi Hammel and Reta Beebe got their first look at the huge black eyes the comet punched in Jupiter's clouds.
about the HST as a NASA/ESA project, HST as tool, the people, the process, the astronomy: Seattle 3 questions, and Munich, 3 questions
Questions are routed to Weiler at STScI and guests in STOCC/GSFC.
HST compared to other telescopes, spacecraft, etc., and its role as a "weather satellite for our solar system", providing decades-long monitoring of planets such as Mars.
In 1609, Galileo raised his simple telescope to the night skies and saw a universe tenfold greater than any human had seen before.
Bigger, more sophisticated telescopes were built to track and observe fainter, dimmer objects. But because we live beneath a constantly moving ocean of air, even the most modern intruments cannot resolve substantially finer detail than those early telescopes. Earth's turbulent water-laden atmosphere makes the stars twinkle, and blurs and limits fine detail.
Orbiting above the atmosphere, HST avoids this problem and offers resolving powers ten times sharper than any ground-based system,1/10th of an arc second, sharp enough to spot a dime ("coin" for our international audiences), edge-on, 20 miles away!
HST is the size of a school-bus, and has two camera systems, two spectroscopes, and all the support systems a spacecraft needs for power, communications, and navigation, with an attitude control system that can track a human hair five miles away!
The 2.4 meter primary mirror gathers "photons", faint light from celestial objects, and concentrates them onto a smaller secondary mirror, which -- in turn -- reflects the light down again onto the science instruments package. From here, beam splitters redirect the light to particular detectors.
Our project used the Wide Field and Planetary Camera system, "Wiff- Pick 2", to image Neptune. The high-resolution Faint Object Camera, FOC, built by the Europen Space Agency, was used for our Pluto observations.
Within our Solar System robot spacecraft have brought us spectacular images of distant planets, but the fly-bys can only record snapshots in time, after long, risky and expensive journeys.
HST complements these observations by allowing >ongoing< surveys over longer periods. Hubble shows us weather and climate, making our solar system a set of real places we can monitor, compare and contrast, finding out, for example, that temperatures on Mars have dropped on average some 20 degrees in the years since our Viking spacecraft landed on its surface in 1976.
The Hubble Space Telescope -- the "ultimate interplanetary weather satellite"...
"What's up" with Hubble, right now... perhaps the transition from "orbit night" to "orbit day"
Introduction to Neptune
August, 1989... Planetary scientists at NASA'S Jet Propulsion Laboratory, JPL, waited expectantly as Voyager 2 approached Neptune, its last port of call in our Solar System.
Few were prepared for the startling images of this beautiful blue world, four times the size of Earth.
Voyager photographed Neptune's strange system of ring arcs. The brightest ring circles more than 30,000 miles above the atmosphere.
Neptune's moons displayed strange and varied details -- ice geysers on Triton, a large moon with a complex surface, in size and density much like Pluto.
For atmospheric scientists, Neptune was a special treat as Voyager skimmed barely 3,000 miles above the cloudtops. Its atmosphere proved tremendously dynamic, much more so than predicted for a planet so far from the warmth of the Sun.
Neptune had a "Great Dark Spot", a storm system larger than the Earth, and driven by 700 mile per hour retrograde winds -- jetstreams moving opposite to the direction of Neptune's rotation!
There were smaller, fast-moving light clouds, one nicknamed "Scooter"... Whoah!!! -- there it goes again! Gotcha!
In this view Voyager's images are timed to freeze Scooter's position, while the other banded wind and cloud currents race by at differing speeds.
But Voyager could not linger. In a few days it had come and gone.
Then in 1994 and five, HST provided new views of Neptune. Though nearly 3 billion miles away, our interplanetary weather satellite could still clearly resolve cloud and weather patterns.
But now there was no sign of the Great Dark Spot! Instead, other storm systems had appeared in the opposite hemisphere!
Planet Advocate Heidi Hammel:
Heidi interview on tape, sync, (not exact): "It turned upside down... always different! If we were to observe Neptune we would see things that would belong to these students..."
One question each from Seattle and Munich
On-camera students at STScI relay on-line questions from USA and Brazil
LIVE at GSFC What's happening with HST RIGHT NOW!
Introduction to Pluto
The Lowell Observatory near Flagstaff, Arizona, was originally built to study Mars, during the conjunction of1894 -- a time when knowledge of the Red Planet was not much better than our current knowledge of Pluto.
We spoke with Planet Advocate Marc Buie at the "Pluto Dome" -- so called since it was also here, on February 18, 1930, that a young assitant astronomer, Clyde Tombaugh, then-CHECK years old, first sighted a trans-Neptunian planet.
[Buie Nat Sound " This is the Telescope..."]
This is the "discovery plate", the very first image of Pluto! Clyde Tombaugh, the only American to discover a planet, recently celebrated his 90th birthday, along with Planet Advocates Marc Buie and Reta Beebe and some "Passport to Knowledge" students, at New Mexico State University. They presented him with greetings and birthday cards which our LIVE FROM project had invited students to send, via the Internet, from around the world.
Pluto is still very mysterious. Artists imagine a dark, icy world, but scientists have very little hard information about Pluto and its moon Charon. Pluto itself is only about 2/3's the size of Earth's Moon, but Charon is 1/2 the side of its parent planet, making it relatively the largest planetary off-spring in our solar system (CLEAR ENOUGH???)
Pluto was closest to the Sun in 1988, when its atmosphere was discovered during a stellar occultation, and scientists monitored how starlight gradually faded and returned as the planet passed in front of it.
Now Pluto is moving outwards again, to an eventual distance fifty times further from the Sun than Earth. As it cools still more, its atmosphere may freeze out onto its surface until, 240 years from now, Pluto returns to the warmth of the Sun.
Pluto's "North Pole" is tipped downwards relative to Earth and it rotates on its side. Charon's orbit is also canted, in line with Pluto's equator.
During the period from 1985-1990, Charon periodically crossed in front of Pluto, as seen from Earth. Using the 88-inch telescope of the University of Hawaii, Marc Buie and colleages were able to measure reflected changes in surface brightness, as Charon's shadow eclipsed Pluto. They created these computer maps of bright and dark regions, but these are not direct images of the actual surface, but rather inferences drawn from changes in brightness.
Now Pluto has moved on in its orbit and such eclipses are no longer visible from Earth. Robot space probes are being studied, but no formal project has yet been approved. So it's the Hubble which now offers the best chance to learn more about Pluto and its atmosphere.
In 1994, Marc Buie and colleagues used HST observations to make this improved map of Pluto. The LIVE FROM HUBBLE orbit was directed at the largest white patch on this brand-new map, and if all goes well, may help determine if any changes in brightness are occurring as Pluto's atmosphere cools to form growing patches of frost and ice.
Any change at all will be a significant contribution to our knowledge of this lonely planet.
Date comes in... Marc responds with first impressions of "what does this mean?" Marc and STScI image processor begin to work with the data...
Washington State, 4 questions -- RESPOND TO LIVE DATA Munich, 2 questions -- RESPOND TO LIVE DATA
A sequence which demonstrates how image processing of HST data turns pixels into pictures: Jupiter and Reta's data as a case-study in using the HST archive and new data, and as an example of what will happen to the Pluto and Neptune images.
TAPED IN NEW MEXICO, MARCH 8, 1996, TO BE EDITED IN LOS ANGELES, MARCH 9 1996.
Data comes in... Heidi responds with first impressions of "what does this mean?" Heidi and STScI image processor begin to work with the data...
Washington State, 4 questions -- RESPOND TO LIVE DATA Munich, 2 questions -- RESPOND TO LIVE DATA Kids at STScI relay on-line questions, USA, Brazil and Japan, to MARC and/or Heidi
Goodbye from GSFC
note: total running time MUST not exceed 59:30, so there will be revisions to reflect GSFC mission realities, running time and LIVE events!