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SCIENCE REPORT – January 31, 2002: Hubble Improvements - 2002-01-28

This is the VOA Special English Science Report.

American space agency astronauts will soon replace much of the equipment in the Hubble Space Telescope. The new equipment will help the Hubble produce much more information than it can today.

NASA plans to launch the Space Shuttle Columbia from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on February twenty-eighth. It will carry seven astronauts on an eleven-day flight to provide service to the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Hubble was designed to permit astronauts to take it apart and replace old or broken equipment with newer technology. More than ninety percent of its parts are designed to be replaced.

Columbia’s astronauts will replace Hubble’s camera with a new, advanced system. It will permit the space telescope to do ten times the amount of work it can do now. The new camera is called the Advanced Camera for Surveys or A-C-S.

The A-C-S is three different cameras. Each deals with different kinds of light. The cameras can see and record light that the human eye can not see.

The Hubble will also receive new equipment that permits it to make electric power from sunlight. The device will replace an older one that has been in use for eight years. The new device will increase Hubble’s electric power by thirty percent.

Astronauts also will replace the device that controls Hubble’s electric power. The new power control device will permit Hubble to use the added power.

Astronauts will also repair an instrument called the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer. They will replace the camera’s cooling system. This special camera was placed on the Hubble in Nineteen-Ninety-Seven. It stopped working two years later after its cooling device failed.

NASA hopes the new cooling device will be able to provide the extremely cold temperatures needed by this special camera. They also hope to extend the camera’s working life by several years.

Since its launch in Nineteen-Ninety, the Hubble Space Telescope has made more than three-hundred-thirty-thousand scientific observations of distant objects in space.

It has observed more than twenty-five-thousand space objects. And it has provided scientific information that has helped researchers produce more than two-thousand-six-hundred scientific papers.

This VOA Special English Science Report was written by Paul Thompson.