transcript of the PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE program
#101, "THE GREAT PLANET DEBATE"
first aired November 9, 1995, over public television and NASA-TV
Part 1: Introduction
Underwriter acknowledgment: student announcer (female):
Live from Hubble Space Telescope is made possible in part by the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation,
PBS K-12 Learning Services and public television.
Narrator (Dr. WILLIAM A. GUTSCH) over NASA and STScI footage and
animations of the HST and its discoveries:
|November, 1995: the Hubble Space Telescope reveals astonishing close-up
images of star forming regions in M-16, the Eagle Nebula, some seven
thousand light years from Earth -- amazingly detailed images that
show organic-looking columns of gas, light years long, sculpted by
the pressure of light and particles from nearby stars.
In the years since its launch in 1990, the Hubble has looked much further
out into our still mysterious universe, peering deep into galaxies and
the black holes which seem to power some of them, painting a portrait
of dark space dotted with myriad shapes, the abode perhaps of other astronomically-inclined
beings who survey the universe with their own space telescopes.
||But Hubble itself has also looked much closer to home, revealing
a colder, drier Mars than that seen by the last spacecraft to come
this way, twenty years ago. Hubble also tracked the impact of mountain-sized
chunks of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter and surveyed the results
of this once -in-a-thousand lifetimes' cosmic collision.
Hampered at first by a misshapen mirror, a highly successful Servicing
Mission in 1993 replaced one camera and inserted corrective lenses
that restored much of Hubble's promised eyesight. This demonstrated
that further improvements can be expected from new instruments to
be installed in 1997 and on into the next century. This remarkable
telescope, a cooperative venture of America's NASA and the European
Space Agency has helped rewrite the book on our cosmos near and
far, delivering block-buster images from orbit nearly every week.
| GUTSCH, on camera, in the lobby of STScI:
This is a model of the Hubble Space Telescope here at the Space Telescope
Science Institute in Baltimore. The real space telescope is five times
larger and orbits the globe every couple of hours more than three
hundred miles above our heads. Now I have a question for you. How
would you like to be able to use the real space telescope to observe
objects across the universe? Well, believe it or not, this coming
March this largest telescope ever put into space is going to be as
close to you as your television screen or your computer modem. Students
like you from across the country and around the world will be able
to work with top research scientists at deciding which of several
objects in space we are going to be studying next March with this
very special telescope.
This program is going to tell you how to participate in this exciting
and totally unique experiment in science education and outreach.
And outreach is a good word because, via the Internet, you are going
to be able to reach out to this unique research tool.
Hi, I'm Dr. Bill Gutsch. Welcome to Live from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Passport to Knowledge presents Live from the Hubble Space Telescope.
TITLE SEQUENCE Narrator (Dr. GUTSCH) over NASA and STScI footage
and animations of the HST and its discoveries:
The Hubble Space Telescope is an amazingly complex observatory, forty-three
feet long, the size of a school bus, and weighing over twenty-five thousand
pounds. Every few hours it orbits the Earth, passing from dark night into
the heat of sunlight. Packed deep down inside the telescope's insulated
shell is its ninety-four-and-a-half inch primary mirror, which allows
scientists to see things ten times clearer than the telescopes on the
surface of the Earth. A secondary mirror bounces light from distant objects
down into an area the size of a dinner plate, where an array of cameras
and other detectors wait. In outer space, the Hubble can catch ultraviolet
radiation, and sometimes infrared, blocked by the Earth's turbulent water-laden
atmosphere. An array of filters can select different colors in different
kinds of light, giving Hubble great flexibility in the types of observations
it can do.
Hubble signals bounce from orbit via Tracking and Data Relay Satellites
down to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, which
controls the spacecraft itself, and finally on to the Space Telescope
Science Institute on the campus of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore,
which is responsible for all scientific aspects of Hubble's missions.
GUTSCH on camera:
||By now I think you can see how unique and exciting a research tool
the Hubble Space Telescope is for doing cutting-edge astronomy. In
fact, for every five astronomers who want to get time on the Hubble
Space Telescope there's only enough time to give one of those a chance
to actually use it. (editor's note: the current ratio is more like
10:1, which makes our project all the more astonishing!) But this
Spring, NASA and the Space Telescope Science Institute are giving
us and you three complete orbits of the Hubble Space Telescope with
which to do some exciting new research. And they are giving us all
of the facilities, the scientists, the computers, that they normally
give the top researchers around the world.
Now here is where you come in. Together, we have to choose which
of four planets the Hubble Space Telescope is going to observe next
Spring. We picked planets for several reasons: one, they are rather
bright objects, and that means that we can do some real science
in only a couple of orbits of the Hubble Space Telescope, and secondly
because planets usually have some rather interesting details on
their surfaces or in their atmospheres.
Here at Passport to Knowledge we have also enlisted the services of
four top research planetary astronomers, we'll call them our "Planetary
advocates", who are going to work with you at trying to figure out and
trying to determine which one of the four planets we are going to be studying.
The Planet Advocates are seen: GUTSCH continues voice over: In
alphabetical order, our Planet Advocates are:
|Dr. Reta Beebe, from New Mexico State University, who
will help us study the planet Jupiter.
||For Pluto, Dr. Marc Buie, from the Lowell observatory
in Flagstaff, Arizona.
||For the planet Neptune, we have Dr. Heidi Hammel, from
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...
||And for Uranus, Dr. Carolyn Porco from the University
Our thanks to all of them for their commitment to this exciting project.
In many ways, you students will be the co-investigators on this research
project with these scientists, and this program will show you how to participate.
Now go to the schedule
Closing Underwriter announcement:
Live from the Hubble Space Telescope is made possible in part
by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science
Foundation, PBS K-12 Learning Services and Public Television.