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SM4 has an ambitious program of activities and three main objectives.
The first objective is to extend Hubble's operational life by at least five years. Over a series of five spacewalks, astronauts will replace all six gyroscopes, install new batteries, and exchange a degraded Fine Guidance Sensor with a new one. They will also install replacement thermal insulation on critical component bays of the telescope, and attach a mechanism that will aid in Hubble's final de-orbiting.
The second objective is to enhance Hubble's scientific power. Astronauts will install two new instruments, the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS). WFC3, which sees in visible, infrared and ultraviolet light, will improve Hubble's sensitivity 10-30 times because of improvements in technology and design that have occurred since the last instruments were installed.
The third objective is to repair Hubble's out-of-commission instruments, the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS). STIS stopped working in 2004 and ACS failed in 2007.
If these objectives can be successfully carried out during the servicing mission, then Hubble will be at the apex of its scientific capability, with six working, complementary science instruments. These upgrades will keep Hubble functioning at the pinnacle of astronomy well into the next decade.
NASA Delays Shuttle Flight to Hubble Space Telescope
HOUSTON - NASA has pushed back the planned launch of the final flight to overhaul the Hubble Space Telescope by up to five weeks due to external fuel tank delays, mission managers said Thursday.
Space shuttle program manager John Shannon said that the additional time required to include post-Columbia safety improvements in two shuttle fuel tanks supporting the Hubble servicing mission have delayed the spaceflight to no earlier than late September. A seven-astronaut crew was slated to launch toward Hubble aboard NASA's shuttle Atlantis on Aug. 28.
Today, in celebration of the Hubble Space Telescope's 18th launch anniversary, 59 views of colliding galaxies constitute the largest collection of Hubble images ever released to the public. This new Hubble atlas dramatically illustrates how galaxy collisions produce a remarkable variety of intricate structures in never-before-seen detail.