Live from the Hubble Space Telescope
Draft of Video 2 Script
LIVE FROM THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE
March 14th Telecast: Making Your Observations
The following is a draft rundown and script, as of Friday March 8 1996
that was 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!
Sequence 1: HUMANS AND THE HEAVENS
Astronomical images, timelapse clouds and stars, the Hubble Space
Telescope in orbit and some of its discoveries
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
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.
Sequence 2: THE STRUCTURE OF THIS PROGRAM
Live introduction of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center; the Space
Telescope Institute/STScI, Baltimore, Maryland; the ESO/Hubble
European Coordinating Facility/ECF, Munich, Germany; Washington
State, and the people and presenters who will participate at each
Sequence 3: PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE and LIVE FROM THE HUBBLE
SPACE TELESCOPE titles
Sequence 4: WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN
We meet Planet Advocates Heidi Hammel and Marc Buie at STScI, as
well as NASA's Dr. Ed Weiler, HST project scientist. Our hosts give
the e-mail address which -- during the live program only -- can be
used to send questions (email@example.com)
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
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
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!!!
Sequence 6: HST -- THE STAR OF OUR SHOW
LIVE from Goddard, we see the current status of the telescope
5A TARGETING THE PLANETS: STScI Program Coordinator Tony
Roman shows how some planets are safe to view, and some are not
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
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
(NOTE: SEQ. 6 HAS BEEN MOVED EARLIER)
Sequence 7: LIVE Q&A re HST ITSELF, AS SPACECRAFT AND
3 questions total, from Washington State, Munich, and online, likely
directed to Ed Weiler.
Sequence 8: THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE SCENES, (or "IT TAKES A WHOLE
SPACE AGENCY TO RUN A SPACE TELESCOPE!") VTR
(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.
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
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
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
Hubble requires 24-hour a day monitoring by a skilled team of
engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center near Greenbelt,
[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
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
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
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
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.
Sequence 9: QUESTIONS FROM STUDENTS TO STScI/GSFC: LIVE
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.
Sequence 10: HOW HST HAS ADDED TO OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE SOLAR
SYSTEM: VTR 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
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 Spacce Telescope -- the "ultimate interplanetary
Sequence11 HST: THE STAR OF OUR SHOW LIVE from GSFC
"What's up" with Hubble, right now... perhaps the transition from
"orbit night" to "orbit day"
Sequence 12 HEIDI HAMMEL ON NEPTUNE: STScI LIVE
Introduction to Neptune
Sequence 13 NEPTUNE: WHAT WE KNOW AND WHAT WE WANT TO KNOW:
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
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
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..."
Sequence 14: Q&A TO HEIDI
One question each from Seattle and Munich
On-camera students at STScI relay on-line questions from USA and
Sequence 15: HST: THE STAR OF OUR SHOW
LIVE at GSFC What's happening with HST RIGHT NOW!
Sequence 16: MARC BUIE ON PLUTO: LIVE
Introduction to Pluto
Sequence17: PLUTO: WHAT WE KNOW AND WANT TO KNOW VTR
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
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.
Sequence 18: THE "LIVE FROM THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE" PLUTO
OBSERVATION: FIRST LOOK... LIVE
Date comes in... Marc responds with first impressions of "what does
this mean?" Marc and STScI image processor begin to work with the
Sequence 19: Q&A TO MARC, LIVE
Washington State, 4 questions -- RESPOND TO LIVE DATA
Munich, 2 questions -- RESPOND TO LIVE DATA
Sequence 20: JUPITER: WHAT RETA SAW VTR
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. SCRIPT WILL BE POSTED IN THE NEXT FEW
Sequence 20A: HOW STUDENTS CAN DO IMAGE PROCESSING, AS
SUGGESTED BY THE PRINTED TEACHER'S GUIDE, AND THE ONLINE
ACTIVITY TO BE UNVEILED MARCH 15 1996.
Sequence 21: HST: THE STAR OF OUR SHOW LIVE from GSFC
What's happening with HST right now!
Sequence 22: THE "LIVE FROM THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE"
NEPTUNE OBSERVATION: FIRST LOOK... LIVE
Data comes in... Heidi responds with first impressions of "what does
this mean?" Heidi and STScI image processor begin to work with the
Sequence 23: Q&A TO HEIDI, LIVE
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
Sequence 24: HST RIGHT NOW! AND "GOODBYE" LIVE
Goodbye from GSFC
Sequence 25: NEXT PROGRAM TEASE, AND WHAT STUDENTS CAN BE
DOING ONLINE AND IN-CLASS
Sequence 26: CREDITS and acknowledgments
note: total running time MUST not exceed 59:30, so there will be
revisions to reflect GSFC mission realities, running time and LIVE