Veterinarian to upgrade Hubble space telescope

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Dr. Richard M. LinnehanDr. Richard M. Linnehan


Dr. Richard M. Linnehan, veterinarian and NASA mission specialist, will be part of a four-man extravehicular activity team assigned to the STS 109, the fourth servicing mission to the Hubble space telescope. The orbiter Columbia is presently scheduled to launch on Feb.14, 2002 for the 12-day mission.

Dr. Linnehan and his EVA team members, John M. Grunsfeld, James H. Newman, and Michael J. Massimino, have been training over a year for this mission, which includes the installation of the "advanced camera for surveys." The ACS is a combination of three cameras with ranges from visible to far ultraviolet wavelengths that will have 10 times the resolution of the cameras it will replace. In addition, this servicing mission will replace the twin solar arrays, or antennas, and the main power unit and upgrade the cooling system for another camera system that images in the near infrared spectrum.

"We're going to capture [the telescope] and bring it into payload bay," Dr. Linnehan said. "Then we're going to go out and do a series of five spacewalks to upgrade the systems on Hubble; the power systems, the imaging cameras, and electronic subsystems will be improved to provide better science well into the next decade."

The Hubble space telescope, launched in 1990, orbits 600 km above the earth, imaging and gathering data from deep space, which it then archives and transmits to astronomers. The myriad scientific discoveries in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics attributable to Hubble have made it the most productive scientific instrument ever created.