I went to see the press preview of Hubble 3D at Pacific Science Center’s Boeing IMAX Theater. It’s opening on March 19th (2010) – tickets here . Full disclosure, in case you were unaware, I am employed by Pacific Science Center but my comments here are my own.
I have been looking forward to this film for months, and I was struck by the similarity to some of what I do. So, if you will excuse the conceit, I would like to share a double story with you.
Hubble 3D is partially just plain fun: fly-throughs of actual beautiful Hubble images, three-dimensionalized by some very talented folks who worked with some very intelligent astronomers to be as accurate as possible. As much as I love Hubble images, the other part of the movie is what I enjoyed most. The story of how to fix an ailing telescope, 350 miles above the Earth’s surface. I’ll give you some hints – but go see the movie for yourself to get the full story of the repairs to Hubble.
A Day in the Life
Then there’s what I do. In November, the planetarium projector also chose to show its age. On its way down the elevator shaft it slipped the last six inches and refused to budge. This was extremely scary for all of us, and after several calls to the techs in Pennsylvania we decided we needed to winch it up.
Here’s where it gets similar to the Hubble mission. Compare these two pictures:
The astronauts on STS-125 had quite a lot more to contend with, they were wearing space suits, the stakes were higher, their equipment larger and more expensive, but we both succeeded through teamwork, specialized tools, perseverance, and time.
Ah, and then the equipment just seemed to fight back:
This is not the handrail that Astronaut Mike Massimino had to break off, but it looks very similar and I can’t find a photo online of the broken one.
This chain and sprocket caused a day and a half of work for several people. Arrrgh! But, we succeeded!
In order to safely remove small screws in space, and be able to manipulate power tools while wearing gloves, they developed some very specialized tools for the Hubble repair missions.
| Well, we were inspired by this – but Mark made a tool very similar, but with a slightly pointier point. Unfortunately, that tool is at the bottom of the elevator shaft now, so I can’t show you a real picture.
(Coat Hanger credit: Demion on Flickr )
Hubble 3D in IMAX  – the newest IMAX space movie.
~ A l i c e !
P.S. All astronaut photos are from NASA. As you might expect.