Live from the Hubble Space Telescope


PART 1: April 2 CU-SeeMe postponed

PART 2: Challenge Questions: last week's answer and a new puzzle

PART 3: Satellite coordinates for international TV

PART 4: Mystery of the wispy clouds

PART 5: Visiting with third graders


The CU-SeeMe session scheduled for today (April 2) has been postponed. This event will be rescheduled for Thursday, April 11 from 9am - noon Pacific (noon - 3pm Eastern).

During this session, we'll be discussing the Hubble Space Telescope as a spacecraft, including and all of the very detailed engineering parameters and operations that need to be monitored to keep things running smooth. The first and last hour will be a chance to connect with various experts at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center who work where the HST is operated. The middle hour will be used for classroom-classroom interactions without the Hubble experts. You are invited to join us for all or part of the festivities.

For additional information about this and other opportunities for live interactions with the Hubble Team go here


Last week we asked:
If your spaceship needed some emergency repairs, and you were in the vicinity of Neptune, where would you decide to land? Why there?

ANSWER from Heidi Hammel:
You couldn't land on Neptune. Before you got deep enough to find a solid surface to land on, the weight of the atmosphere above you would crush your spaceship. The best place to land would be the moon Triton.

Challenge Question for this week:

Pick two spots on Pluto (other than the poles) that are on opposite hemispheres. From these two vantage points, describe the phases of the moon, Charon, that you would see. (Hint: there are two periods of time to worry about, one long and one short.)


The LHST television program called "Making YOUR Observations" (#102, the March 14 edition of the current Passport to Knowledge module) is being carried TODAY on tape by the USIA's Worldnet service.

Carriage time is 12:30 GMT (Universal Time) Tuesday April 2nd, (U.S.) for the ENGLISH-LANGUAGE VERSION, and 18:00 GMT for the SPANISH- LANGUAGE version. The satellite coordinates follow.

Spacenet 2 (two) 69 degrees W, 3760 MHZ, transponder 2, NTSC

Intelsat 601, 332.5 degrees E, West Hemi Beam, 3995 MHZ, transponder 14, NTSC

For AFRICA and EUROPE: (C-band)
Intelsat 601, 332.5 E, East Hemi Beam, 3742.5 MHZ, transponder 21, PAL
for EUROPE (Ku band)
Eutelsat 2 F-2, 10 degrees E, 11575 CHZ (sic)
Transponder 37 (0900-1430 UTC, M-Th)
(0830-14:30 UTC Fri PAL)

for NEAR-EAST and ASIA (C-band)
Intelsat 510, 66 degrees E, 4177.5 MHZ, transponder 38, PAL

for FAR-EAST (C-band)
Intelsat 508, 180 degrees E, 3976 MHZ, transponder 14, PAL

(GHS TO LIST: Please note the above is as faxed to me by USIA. I trust all information is current, but as in the US, you should "check local listings...")


Trisha Borgman

March 26, 1996, 10:30pm
Well, it's another gorgeously clear night at Kitt Peak, and we're in the middle of a 45-minute sequence of exposures. I haven't been outside to see the comet since just past sunset--I'll go take a look soon.

Actually, the comet is a small source of frustration for us here--we will have to scrap a few of our planned observations because they're so close to the comet! It's not at all a serious problem, though.

How do we know which of our target stars will be near the comet, and when? Luckily, we have a printout of the comet's ephemeris-- a list of all kinds of statistics about the comet. The ephemeris lists its position, magnitude, and speed for every 15 minutes or so of time...for every day. Since we also have the position of our target stars, we have been very careful to check for proximity to the comet.'s something interesting. Two of those long exposures are finished now, and on the right side of the image is something that looks like wispy clouds. They're not clouds, though. In fact, I don't know what they are! I suppose it could be part of a nebula--and what a pretty nebula!!--but we just checked another sky-survey image of this region and there's nothing there! A mystery!!! We're still waiting for the other 2 images of this region to finish, so perhaps those images can help us figure out what's going on! Another possibility, unfortunately, is that there could be something wrong with our CCD chip. Let's hope that's not the problem... After all, it's also possible that we just discovered a new nebula!

Our third image of that region is coming out now... Yep, it's still there. One interesting observation is that these cloudlike features are considerably brighter in our R-band images (red) than in the V-band (visible--a greenish filter). I don't know yet why that is, but I'll do my best to figure it out!

...It's just past midnight now. We haven't had much time to investigate our little mystery any further; these cloudlike features are not in any of our other images, so it's difficult to understand where they're coming from. However, the fact that all of our other images are clean allows us to rule out the possibility that something was wrong with the CCD itself.

We took about half an hour to try to get a few images of the comet. We used the ephemeris I talked about earlier as a guide to its position. We were actually a little early in using the listed coordinates, so we took a series of 5-second exposures. It turns out that the comet moved almost perfectly through each of our frames! So, we now have a sequence of 14 frames in which we can literally see the comet moving diagonally from one corner to the opposite corner. They're beautiful! Wow!

Well, our next exposure is coming up, so I'd better get back to work. I still have a long night ahead of me!!

Happy comet-searching,


Flavio J. Mendez

March 7, 1996.
I got up early this morning. I'm not a morning person. I usually get to work around 9:30 a.m. that way I get to avoid traffic and people get to avoid me during the early morning hours; the only one that has that privilege is my wife Ailsa (her picture is on my bio-page). But today was different. Today I went to give a school presentation with my colleagues from Johns Hopkins University: Kati Cunningham and Chris Yancone. We visited Riderwood Elementary in Baltimore County. We gave three presentations to all three third grade classes.

I met Chris and Kati in my office at 8 a.m. to gather all our materials to take to Riderwood. On the way to the school (about 20 minutes away) we reviewed our agenda. This was our first time trying a new set of activities during our HST presentations and because of that we were a bit nervous.

The visit to Riderwood Elementary was as part of the Institute's Elementary School Outreach Program. The objective of this program is to assist in the training of future elementary school teachers -- you see, Kati and Chris are studying to be elementary school teachers. We partnered so that I could learn about teachers and they could learn about scientists.

We were well received at Riderwood by the Coordinator of Cultural Arts Program, Ms. Diane Friedman and escorted to the library. We started quickly assessing the room, looking for plugs on the wall where we could plug-in our slide projector, assembling the room in groups of five or six students per table and setting up the VCR and TV for our planned 3-minute videotape showcase.

At 9 a.m. the first group of students walked through the door and started taking their seats. During our presentation we engaged the students to exercise a few concepts: prediction, explanation and confirmation of facts, the scale of systems -- planet, star, galaxy and the HST as a tool for exploration. The inquiry model was followed letting the students play the role of scientists.

The agenda we followed was this:

The children enjoyed all the activities, specially confirming that their drawings of Saturn and M-100 matched the HST's images. For me the most interesting part was in the beginning of the presentation when we asked the students to predict (guess) who the scientist was among us three. Very few students picked me as the scientist. When confronted, a student that had picked Chris as the scientist, he said that he voted for Chris "because he was well dressed (wearing a tie) so he looked like a scientist". We took the opportunity to talk about the way scientists are viewed and portrayed on our society and the stereotype of white-gray hair-bearded-old-men.

All three presentations went well. By noon we had to go back to my office. We were very tired; I don't know how teachers do this full-time. On the way back we evaluated the lessons and talked about ways for improving. Chris and Kati went back to their schools in Howard County where they student-teach and I started (at 1 p.m.) a full day at the office.

Flavio J. Mendez.