Astronauts onboard the space shuttle Atlantis will have one extra job to do next week.
They'll be using IMAX cameras to film the five spacewalks need for the final maintenance and upgrade of the Hubble Space Telescope. IMAX Corp., NASA and Warner Bros. Pictures announced Tuesday that the cameras will go aloft with the shuttle crew next Monday and the footage will be used to create Hubble 3D, a movie set to be released in IMAX theaters in the spring of 2010.
"The Hubble Space Telescope continues to dazzle us with the splendor of our universe and after the [upcoming] mission we look forward to many more years of awe-inspiring imagery," said Bob Jacobs, NASA's acting assistant administrator for Public Affairs, in a statement. "One of the challenges in sharing Hubble's story is identifying media that can capture the scope and scale of the cosmos. IMAX has developed innovative 3-D image capture and projection technology that creates a large-scale immersive educational experience in which those of us on the ground are no longer passive observers of spaceflight, we're active participants."
IMAX noted that its staff has trained the astronauts to use the cameras. One camera will be mounted outside the shuttle.
The astronauts, working in conjunction with the space shuttle's robotic arm, are expected to make five spacewalks to do maintenance and upgrades on the orbiting telescope.
The space shuttle Atlantis crew had been scheduled to service the Hubble telescope last fall, but that mission was postponed because of a failed computer on board the orbiter. NASA engineers were forced to remotely switch the spacecraft over to an onboard backup system, working from a room in the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., while the telescope hurtled along its orbit around Earth at 17,500 mph.
In the upcoming mission, astronauts will bring up new instrumentation, new batteries and a new camera that is designed to give the orbiter the ability to see 10 times farther and faster, according to Mission specialist Mike Massimino, who is part of the Atlantis crew and will be Twittering from space. Hubble's capabilities will be expanded and its lifetime extended through at least 2014 because of the service mission, NASA said.