Live from the Hubble Space Telescope


PART 1: Challenge Questions: last week's answer and a new puzzle

PART 2: Live interactions with the Hubble team: CU-SeeMe and WebChat

PART 3: Announcing a student debate forum: debate-hst

PART 4: Reta's notes from Clyde Tombaugh's Birthday

PART 5: A Day In The Strife of OPUS Operations


[Editor's note: normally you can count on these Challenge Questions being available on Mondays, including a new one next Monday. Some extraordinary circumstances prevented this week's edition from coming out on time. I am sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Marc]

Last week we asked:
Use your tables and a star chart from the Library or a source like Sky and Telescope or Astronomy magazine to...

  1. Determine what constellation Uranus and Neptune are near on March 14.
    ANSWER: Capricorn

  2. Find out which planet is closest to Libra and Scorpio on March 14.
    ANSWER: Pluto

Challenge Question for this week:

This Challenge Question is from our Pluto Planet Advocate, Marc Buie. It's a tough one, so you will have to really do some critical thinking!

You are packing for your vacation on Pluto. Of course, you want to bring along your camera to take pictures of the fantastic scenery. What would happen to your photography plans if you forgot to bring you camera's tripod?


During the course of Live from the Hubble Space Telescope, various NASA experts will be available for live interactions with students. These scheduled events will take place in two ways: CU-SeeMe and WebChat. The latest information about these sessions is Web-available here:

Each event will be scheduled for two one-hour blocks in a given day to provide schools with flexibility. The times will be 9-10am and 11am-noon Pacific (noon-1pm and 2-3pm Eastern).

CU-SeeMe is a technology which provides a videoconference over computer networks. The reflectors for these conferences will be: and

A tentative schedule for the Cu-SeeMe sessions is listed below. This schedule is subject to change; any changes will be announced via this maillist and also will be reflected on the Web page listed above.

Tuesday, April 2:
Chris Wilkinson from Goddard Space Flight Center;
TOPIC: the HST as a spacecraft

Wednesday, April 17:
Alex Storrs and Tony Roman from Space Telescope Science Institute; TOPIC: How we prepared the HST to make your Pluto and Neptune observations

Monday, April 29:
Person TBD; TOPIC: what we learned from our HST data

Friday, March 29
A special session will be available from 9:30-11:30am Pacific (12:30-2:30pm Eastern) from the exhibit floor of the NSTA convention. This convention brings together 15,000 science teachers for a festival of learning. Many Passport to Knowledge organizers and teachers will be attending, and this is one way you can virtually join us.

Tips for teachers new to CU-SeeMe are available here

WebChat is a Web technology in which you type brief thoughts while others are doing the same thing. Every Tuesday from 3-4pm Pacific (6-7 Eastern) there is a regularly scheduled WebChat with Live from the Hubble Space Telescope organizers and others who drop in. These sessions can provide a chance to get familiar with the system before a scheduled conference with a NASA expert.

In order to participate in a WebChat, please visit the ChatRoom here. Alternate access is available from the main LHST homepage by choosing Teachers' Lounge.

A tentative schedule for the WebChat sessions with NASA experts is listed below. This schedule is subject to change; any changes will be announced via this maillist and also will be reflected on the Web page listed above.

Tuesday, March 26:
Chris Wilkinson from Goddard Space Flight Center; TOPIC: the HST as a spacecraft

Wednesday, April 10:
Alex Storrs and Tony Roman from Space Telescope Science Institute; TOPIC: How we prepared the HST to make your Pluto and Neptune observations

Monday, April 18


The Live From the Hubble Space Telescope project invites students to participate in the an electronic mail forum called debate-hst. This forum opens with this invitation to participate and will continue through May 24th. Focus questions relating to astronomy (in particular the Hubble Space Telescope project) issues will be posted every two weeks, beginning April 1. March 21th-March 31th will be an introductory phase where students are encouraged to introduce themselves, their class, school, and community.

Purpose of this Forum:

  1. To give students an opportunity to share their own unique perspectives and insights through interaction in a structured forum

  2. Provide a mechanism for sharing classroom discussion of space-related issues

  3. Provide opportunities for students to learn proper interaction techniques in an on-line, moderated electronic mail forum

  4. Enhance critical thinking skills through focused debate

  5. Produce an end product reflecting the spirit of the debate forum and the consensus reached on-line. (This end product may take the form of a electronic journal, newsletter, or magazine. Students will provide input in the decision of the end product.)

Logistics of Forum Operation:

  1. The forum will be moderated by Jan Wee, Education Outreach Coordinator.

  2. A "focus question" will be posted on the Monday of each two-week period beginning, April 1st. Subsequent new focus questions will be posted on: April 15th, April 29th and May 13th. The forum will close on May 24th.

  3. The forum has a clear set of expectations:

Special Note to Classroom Teachers:

We encourage sponsoring classes to debate the focus question within their classroom and share their input on-line via their on-line representative.



Reta Beebe

March 19, 1996:
At 2:30 PM, February 23, 1996 Marc Buie, your Pluto scientist presented a colloquium (lecture or talk) at New Mexico State University to all of the astronomers. He talked about what he and his team had learned about Pluto by using the Hubble Space Telescope. Clyde Tombaugh attended the talk and discussed Pluto with Dr. Buie. Dr. Buie's talk was quite interesting and Dr. Tombaugh was delighted with how much the team had learned.

Following the colloquium, five students from University Hills (4 third graders: Carnellei Edaakie, Sunnerae Lucero, Mario Montes, and Kyle Clifford who recently studied the Solar System and had invited me to talk with them and a first grader, James Clifford) came to the university to present your birthday cards, the video greeting and T-shirts to Clyde Tombaugh. They did an excellent job, making sure that Clyde knew where each package of cards came from. Clifford and James are also Dr. Tombaugh's great grandsons. Kyle hopes to become an astronomer.

Clyde has been quite busy this month. He thanks you for the your cards and greetings and says that you make him believe his work was truly worthwhile.

Clyde has the following advice for students:

"REMEMBER THAT MOST THINGS THAT ARE WORTH DOING TAKE A LOT OF EFFORT. Arrange your schedule so that you have plenty of time for your work. Don't let things like radio or TV distract you when you are studying. Concentrate on your work and ENJOY it. I still do!"


Mark Kochte

March 13, 1996:
After a quick stop at Dunkin' Donuts to grab a box of munchkins for today's crew, I got in about 7:10 am and opened up the workstations, ready to begin the day! And I immediately discovered that one of the two workstations was in a hung state; it was totally unresponsive. Ugh. And I got in early today; the SOGSMGR (the system manager for the SOGS computer system used by the Operations Center here) won't be in for another 40 minutes or so.

I begin prepping the windows in the workstation that is responsive, only to discover two of them are hung! Wunnerful. Okay, so there are two windows I can't work with just yet; I put those away. In one of the windows that I can use I read the shift report from last night. datadisk for data evaluation was put in...they received science data and processed new engineering telemetry received last night...oops, problems with processing one of last night's observations...hmmmm, problems with repairing another observation that went to trouble (make a note of that to work on today).... problems with the pipeline cleanup last night, need to investigate that this morning, too...and problems with one of our software tools that needs trouble-shooting. Well, this could prove to be a fun morning.

I start up the shift report, check the disk space, and check when the STRs are (STR = Science Tape Recorder dumps; when the spacecraft dumps the recorded science data to the ground and ultimately up to us). seems that the new datadisk isn't showing up on our little disk-check tool (it actually has another name, but for simplicity we'll just refer to it as the "disk-check" tool). A quick investigation revealed that our disk-check tool wasn't properly updated when the new disk was installed, and therefore the disk-check tool isn't picking up on the new disk. Great, only a minor problem! A simple fix.

Slowly my co-workers filter in, and the SOGSMGR arrives! Woo hoo! I immediately corner her about the problem with the hung workstation and with the hung windows in the other workstation. She gets back to us a few minutes later. Apparently the workstation that's hung has gotten itself into a Bad State (tm) due to over-allocation of resources. I try logging out and back into the workstation, but this doesn't alleviate the problem. The workstation's resources are still overtaxed. This is Not Good (tm), as we need this workstation to assist in processing the data. I'm expecting to get a dump of science data in the next half hour or so. We try logging out and in of the workstation again, but this doesn't help. Okay, the SOGSMGR decides to perform the ultimate act, and reboots the machine. This works!

Quickly I bring up the workstation, and get the process manager up and going The process manager is the pipeline through which our science data processes through; it needs to be up and operating to process any data we might get. And a few minutes later, the data from the spacecraft hits our system and processes through, with nary a hitch.

While that occurs, I turn my attentions next to the data that is sitting in trouble, waiting to be fixed (you see, when an observation fails to process properly, for whatever reason, it is sent to a trouble area for us to attend to as time will allow; we try and do this as quickly as possible so we can get the data out to the person who originally requested it as soon as possible). A couple of the support team members join in and we investigate the different observations in trouble for an hour or so. A couple of them we were able to readily fix and reinsert for processing. They processed just fine. There was a problem that needed further detailed investigation. The two support team members drifted off in thought and would try and get back with me later on them. On to the next item on the list!

The SOGSMGR came back to tell me that the problem with the two hung windows had been corrected (there was a problem with the disk driver, which was hung). My two frozen windows were freed up. Great! More windows to work with (I just love multi-tasking).

I reread the shift report, to make sure I didn't miss anything. And then I read the message waiting from PASSOPS (down at Goddard) that there is more engineering telemetry data from last night ready to be copied. PASSOPS deals with the engineering telemetry data processing for us, in addition to a half dozen other things (such as satellite uplink/downlink requests). Okay, I call up another window that I'm not using and start the tool to copy up the data. Unfortunately, I get the following message:

-SYSTEM-F-UNREACHABLE, remote node is not currently reachable

Ack!! Okay, past experience I know something's up with the line. I jog over to the SOGSMGR area to ask if she knows anything about line problems, and overhear her on the phone with someone else, explaining to them that there is a problem with the data line and the repair crew from Bell Atlantic is looking into it. Okay, so, no data copying for me at the moment. I'll check back on the line status later.

I return my attentions to one of the observations in trouble as one of the support guys comes back with a potential solution. We implement his solution, and try reinserting the one observation...and the background I can hear the SOGSMGR discussi ng with the system manager down at Goddard the line problem...the data enters the pipeline...processes...and goes through! Whew.

Well, that was the morning. It's time for lunch!

I strolled out with a couple other co-workers and wandered onto campus for a quick pizza lunch. After enjoying the warm spring sun and discussing various classes we had taken in our past (or currently were taking), both good and bad aspects, we returned to work.

I slid back in and coordinated with one of the support team members about a potential fix for the other observations that were in trouble. I spent the next hour or so going through the repair procedure and...voila'! Data processed.

Throughout the day I kept tabs on the status of the lines between here and Goddard. Being that they're down means no data. No data means...well, you can figure that out. But finally the lines came up, and I began copying up the engineering telemetry data. At the same time I checked what data had gotten through the DADS archive system and could be archived. Quite a bit of it, it turned out. So I started a batch of data archiving.

Finally I gathered my notes from the shift, and finished editing my shift report, and handed everything over to the evening shift. Let them know that the PASSOPS data was still coming up, and that archiving was going on, and that they should expect to have an otherwise quiet evening. All the problems from last night and today amazingly were taken care of; nothing for the evening shift to do but normal activities.

Instead of going straight home, being that it was *such* a nice day, I opted to go out for an hour or so climbing at a local crag. After that, I returned home, logged on to check what email I had accumulated during the evening, and began dinner. Oh, yeah, foooood....mmmmm!

Finally I kicked back to relax to watch the latest episode of Babylon 5 that I recorded last week (and hadn't had a chance to view yet), and then turned in to sleep. It was late, and I had to be back in early again tomorrow...