Header Bar Graphic
Astronaut ImageArchives HeaderBoy Image
Spacer

TabHomepage ButtonWhat is NASA Quest ButtonSpacerCalendar of Events ButtonWhat is an Event ButtonHow do I Participate Button
SpacerBios and Journals ButtonSpacerPics, Flicks and Facts ButtonArchived Events ButtonQ and A ButtonNews Button
SpacerEducators and Parents ButtonSpacer
Highlight Graphic
Sitemap ButtonSearch ButtonContact Button

 
Hubble Space Telescope Banner


Jeane Ryan

picture of Jeane Ryan

My Field Journals


Hello! Welcome to the HST Systems Verification Group (SVG) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. I'd like to take this opportunity to give you an idea of what I do as a member of the HST Team and a little background that led me to working with the Systems Verification Group. I joined the SVG and started working on Hubble Space Telescope in the Spring of 1992 a year an three quarters before the First Servicing Mission. I'm a System Tester.

The System Verification Group supports the coordination and execution of the Servicing Mission Ground System tests called the "SMGTs" for short. The SMGTs test how all the hardware to be flown on a Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission will work WITH the Ground System. The Ground System is the network of software and computers at Goddard Space Flight Center that interface with Johnson Space Flight Center, Kennedy Space Flight Center, the Science Institute, the Shuttle (Orbiter) and the "HUBBLE" short for Hubble Space Telescope. These tests include hardware whether it is an Orbital Replacement Unit (ORU) or an Orbital Replacement Instrument (ORI) and simulators that simulate the hardware. Orbital Replacement Units are hardware such as the RGA (Rate Gyro Assembly) or the FGS (Fine Guidance Sensor)

The RGA is a system of six mechanical gyroscopes, complete with electronics, that are used to measure the motion of HST. When HST is commanded to maneuver to observe different targets, such as planets or galaxies, the gyroscopes sense the rate of the moving telescope, and report that information to the pointing control system. Only four of the six gyros are required to control the vehicle, as the remaining two are designated as spares (in case of gyro failures).

The FGS is a system of three electronic sensors, that are used to search and lock onto desired guide stars, to provide pointing information to HST. While HST is pointing at a specific target (star, galaxey), the gyros, in conjunction with the FGS, maintain a pointing accuracy of 0.007 arc-sec, such that if the HST were in Los Angeles, it could hold a beam of light on a dime in San Francisco, without the beam straying from the coin's diameter.

In other words the RGAs and FGS work together to keep HUBBLE looking (pointing) at the same place in space while the telescope is going around (orbiting) the earth . The Orbital Replacement Instruments for the upcoming 1997 Second HST Servicing Mission are the STIS and the NICMOS. STIS is the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and NICMOS is the Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer.

STIS will be used as a "Faster Black Hole Finder". STIS will measure the mass of objects and the velocity at which they are spinning. Objects that are determined to be spinning extremely fast but appear to have no mass at all are believed to be black holes.

NICMOS will be used to detect (see) what is inside or behind large masses of dust that are in outer space. The Universe is made up of three basic groups - Gas (Hydrogen and Helium), Dust (All the other elements) and energy (Light). When Stars die they explode. That explosion causes huge masses of dust to be dispersed. These dust masses keep us from seeing what is inside of them and what is behind them. In just the same way a flashlight can not reveal what is inside or behind a cloud of dust or smoke. Using a kind of invisible light, infrared, NICMOS instead determines that there is something inside or behind the dust mass by detecting (measuring) the heat given off by it. This is similar to how night vision binoculars aid a soldier to "see" an enemy in the dark or how an energy specialist can photograph heat loss from a house.

The use of these scientific instruments allow scientists to study parts of outer space that they can't see. These scientists are trying to answer questions about how the universe works and these instruments will help them to do that.

The people in my group, the System Verification Group along with other specialized HUBBLE personnel test the hardware or instruments with the ground system to make sure that when a command is sent to the hardware or instruments via the Ground System interfaces that the hardware or instrument responds the way it has been planned, designed and built to function. If the hardware does not respond as expected (like it should) during the test the testers know that it must be investigated to see whether it is a problem with the hardware, a problem with the commands and/or a problem with the Ground System.

Testing starts off with the very elementary: Can the hardware or instrument be turned ON and OFF with the ground system? On earth we are able to turn a switch or push a button to turn something on or off such as the TV. You could think of the TV and HUBBLE hardware or instruments as similar and the TV remote control and the HST Ground system as similar. We can use the TV remote control to send a signal to turn the TV On and Off and do more involved things like change channels, volume and switch back and forth from TV to VCR mode. Hubble Space Telescope and the Ground System work much the same way. The Ground System is used to send commands to Hubble Space Telescope's components (ORUs and ORIs) to tell them to turn On and turn Off. More testing could included complex commanding which would warm up or cool down an instrument and other commanding which executes very sophisticated and specialized activities so that scientific data about space can be captured and sent back to earth.

It takes many people to do the testing because the project and all its parts are so complex and intricate. Because of its complexity good organization is key. Many parts worked on by multiple teams must come together in a certain order by a specific time so that the whole thing can be tested before launch. It requires real teamwork and good organizational skills to make sure that all the people with the necessary expertise for a given test have been involved in planning, executing and determining the success criteria for the test. The feverish teamwork under strict deadlines, the camaraderie of the group and the excitement of the mission make working for SVG on the Hubble Space Telescope Project fun, exciting, and challenging.

I and my family's and contact with HST goes back way before 1992, however, as my husband, Joseph Ryan has worked on the project since prior to initial launch.

Our family moved to Palo Alto California when Joe's work involved managing the integration and testing of HST prior to shipment for launch. We have three children, Kelly, Susan and Andrew. Kelly was a sophomore student at Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland studying biology and chemistry. She stayed there at school. Susan was a Junior in Broadneck High School and Andy was in fourth grade at Broadneck Elementary High School. They both moved to California with us. I was just graduated from University of Maryland Baltimore County with a degree in Information Systems Management. That was 1985!

Only eleven years later but so much happened. Hubble had a very successful First Servicing Mission and is now getting ready for the Second Servicing Mission. Kelly is now a chemist and works for an Environmental Management Company in San Francisco where she also volunteers at the Dr. Charles R. Drew Alternative Elementary school in Hunters Point-Bayview area of San Francisco, California. Kelly is helping young students to learn about environmental sciences. Susan is working on her PHD in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Berkeley, California. She speaks Russian, French and English and is studying Polish and German. Andrew is now a mechanical engineering junior at Clemson University, South Carolina. He is an avid paddler (kayaks on raging rivers), a down hill skier (groomed and back country terrain) and a rock/mountain/wall climber (out in the state and national parks or at a climbing gym on a simulated rock wall).

The whole family are downhill skiers, Joe and I especially like it because we can still PLAY with our "kids" this way. Besides skiing I like to scuba dive and take underwater pictures of the beautiful coral and fish. I've gone down to the U85 (a German submarine) off the South Carolina Coast at 99 feet deep but usually like to dive from 35 to 60 feet deep because you can stay down so much longer. Additionally I like to do pen and ink sketches, make hand built ceramic pots, play at playing the piano, speak publicly, travel, bike, garden, study French, try to speak French, swim, sew, water ski, dine out, exercise, go to live theater, rock climb, read everything from historical fiction to the Popular Science magazine and do things with my family, friends and community from pot-luck supper and volley ball games to sailing the Caribbean. My interests and needs have taken me on a diverse educational journey. I started out studying pre-school education, then fine arts and finally information systems management. I have a Certificate in pre-school education, an Associate of Arts in Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Information Systems Management. Likewise my career resulted from a multifaceted life. I have been a receptionist, a private secretary, an order expediter, a trustee for a waterfront protection agency, an Olympic volunteer, an artist, an art teacher, a public school substitute teacher, an administrative assistant, a computer trouble shooter, a proposal coordinator, a logistics manager, a software user trainer and now a systems tester. I have been and still am a full-time wife and mom. I especially appreciate my husband, my best friend for all his support in everything I've done and for all I'll do in the future. Down-sizing in 1992 brought me to the HST Project and I'm now starting my eleventh year with Lockheed Martin.

Perhaps the one thing that I have taken away from all of the jobs is how important it is to communicate with people well. Communicating your own ideas well and listening to and respecting the ideas of others in my job can mean the success of a test that might otherwise have failed or it could save the government lots of money and it makes teamwork a lot more fun.


Credits and Contacts
 
Spacer        

Footer Bar Graphic
SpacerSpace IconAerospace IconAstrobiology IconWomen of NASA IconSpacer
Footer Info