NASA astronauts head out on last Hubble spacewalk

They're looking to install a new battery pack and guidance sensor

Gearing up for their fifth and final spacewalk today, the crew of the space shuttle Atlantis hoped to install the last set of batteries and a sensor that should help the Hubble Space Telescope point at its celestial targets.

During the eighth day of the 11-day mission, astronauts John Grunsfeld and Andrew Feustel set out this morning for their third spacewalk of the mission.

The astronauts are largely focused on installing a battery pack in the telescope. Another battery module, which weighs 460 pounds, was successfully installed last week. The batteries power Hubble during the nighttime sections of its orbit.

The astronauts also will be trying to replace one of the three fine guidance sensors on the telescope. The optical sensor, comprising mirrors, lenses, prisms, beam splitters and photomultiplier tubes, gives the orbiter information so it can steadily aim its telescope at its targets. The fine guidance sensors also can take precise measurements of the position and motion of stars.

If the astronauts have time, they also hope to install a stainless steel blanket on the outside of the telescope. The blanket, which should offer thermal protection for equipment bays, was supposed to be installed during a spacewalk yesterday but a stuck bolt used up a lot of the astronauts' time and they were unable get to the blanket installation.

Actually, the stuck bolt nearly derailed the repair of a key instrument - the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, which is NASA's major black hole hunter. It acts as a sort of outer space prism, separating light from the universe into its component colors, giving scientists a "wavelength fingerprint" of any object. That data can offer clues to an object's temperature, chemical composition and motion.

The spectrograph is designed to pick up the light and color signature of black holes. It also helps astronomers map the motion of gas affected by a black hole's gravitational pull.

Yesterday's trouble arose when Mission Specialist Mike Massimino, who has been Twittering about his experience in space, was unable to remove a bolt from the spectrograph's handrail. Eventually, he worked around the issue by simply yanking the handrail until the head of the bolt snapped off. After that, the two astronauts were able to finish the repair job.

On Tuesday, the seven-astronaut crew will redeploy the telescope. They're scheduled to return to Earth on Friday.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags NASAhubble

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?