NASA is turning control of the Hubble Space Telescope over to the general public to give non-scientists a chance to choose which target the iconic observatory should turn its camera eyes on next.
The U.S. space agency is inviting the public to vote for one of six candidate astronomical objects for Hubble to observe in honor of the International Year of Astronomy, which began this month. The options, which Hubble has not previously photographed, range from far-flung galaxies to dying stars. Votes can be cast until March 1.
Hubble's camera will take a high-resolution image revealing new details about the object that receives the most votes. The image will be released during the International Year of Astronomy's "100 Hours of Astronomy" from April 2 to 5.
Everyone who votes also will be entered into a random drawing to receive one of 100 copies of the Hubble photograph made of the winning celestial body.
NASA is also inviting teachers and students to participate in a related Hubble Space Telescope classroom collage activity that integrates art, science and language arts. Students in participating classes can select their favorite Hubble images and assemble them in a collage. Students in each class will also choose their favorite object from the image voting contest and write essays about why they made their selections.
Launched in April 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has spent 18 years peering into the depths of the cosmos to return stunning images and help scientists better understand the history of the universe. NASA has launched four shuttle missions to fix and upgrade Hubble. The fifth and final overhaul by astronauts is due to launch on May 12 aboard the shuttle Atlantis.
Commanded by veteran spaceflyer Scott Altman, Atlantis' STS-125 Hubble servicing crew plans to fly an 11-day mission and stage five spacewalks to add new instruments, batteries, gyroscopes and other gear to extend the space telescope?s mission through at least 2013.
- Video - Vision of Hubble
- Video - Hubble's Last Service Call
- Multimedia - Sky-High Technology: Hubble's Legacy