At Cape Canaveral, Florida, things are even busier than usual as according to news sources
, the shuttle Atlantis completed the first day of its mission to repair gears that will improve the photographic and other capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Four chores were at hand and two of them were completed by 2 pm on this first day. Specialists John Grunsfeld and Drew Feuster installed a “soft capture” mechanism whose function is to allow space craft to attach to the microscope and they also added three kits that will facilitate a faster closing of the telescope doors.
Things did not begin well at 8:52 am when work initiated. Loosening the bolt that secured the Wide Field Planetary Camera, which had not been touched since the camera was installed some 16 years ago was a struggle for Grunsfeld. After 30 minutes, it finally came loose, permitting the installation of a new, higher resolution into Hubble.
In NASA’s words:
“The new camera, about the size of a baby grand piano, will allow the telescope to take large-scale, clear and detailed photos over a wide range of colors.”
The space walking mechanics also installed a new computer that controls the telescope's instruments. They stored the old camera on the shuttle and the plans are that once they return to Earth, the old camera will have a special and very dignified place at the Smithsonian Museum.
Atlantis has scheduled four other space walks for the future to insure Hubble’s proper functioning for years to come.
After such a trip, could even the special effects of a spectacular sci-fi movie incite a feeling of wonder in these intrepid souls? I wonder.