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visible light, cause starlight to scintillate, or twinkle, and hinder or totally absorb infrared, ultraviolet, gamma ray and X-ray wavelengths . To minimize atmospheric distortion, scientists built observatories on mountaintops and away from the areas of highly radiated light, or sky glow, found near large cities. This effort met with varying levels of success. Today, adaptive optics and other image-processing techniques have minimized, but not totally eliminated, atmospheric effects.7 In 1946, Princeton astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer documented the potential benefits of a telescope in space, well above


atmosphere. Then, following the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik in 195 7, NASA placed two orbital astronomical observatories (OAO) into Earth orbit. The OAOs made a number of ultraviolet observations and established the basic principles for the design, manufacture and launch of future space observatories.8 Scientific,

governmental and industrial > Servicing the Hub b le Space Telescope ( HST) . The Space Shuttle Discovery ,

m ission STS-82, lifts the HST from its service b ay after the second Hub b le service m ission. With a launch w eight of 11, 3 4 0 k g [ 25 , 000 lb m ] , the Hub b le’ s

m ain structure is 13 m [ 4 2. 6 ft] long and 4 . 27 m eters [ 14 ft] w ide. Its tw in solar array s span 13 . 7 m eters [ 4 5 feet] w hen deploy ed. The telescope itself is a re ecting con guration term ed a Cassegrain, com prising a 2. 4 -m

[ 9 4 . 5 -in. ] prim ary m irror, and a 3 0-cm [ 12. 2-in. ] secondary m irror. ( Im age courtesy of NASA. )

groups continued the move toward extrater- restrial exploration by planning the next step beyond the OAO program. Spitzer gathered the support of other astronomers for a large orbital telescope, later called the Hubble Space Telescope, and in 1969, the National Academy of Sciences approved the project.9 NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, USA, was responsible for scientific instrument design and ground control for the space observatory. In 1983, the Space Telescope


As we move from exploration of inner space to that of outer space, the tools and techniques developed for exploration deep beneath the Earth’s surface are helping to uncover the mysteries of our solar system and the far reaches of space. In this article, we discuss a few of the recent contributions made to space exploration by the scientists and engineers of the petroleum industry. Although the mission of the NEAR spacecraft has ended, oilfield technology aboard the HST and the Cassini-Huygens Saturn probe continues to expand our knowledge and chart our way forward in the quest for knowledge.

Keeping the Hubble on Target Throughout history, our understanding of the universe has been limited by what we could see. The invention of the telescope enhanced our vision and allowed observations by Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo in the 16th and 17th centuries

By the 18th century, the development of the telescope helped scientists investigate the cosmos. Increasingly bigger and better telescopes have routinely discovered and documented planets, stars and nebulae that are invisible to the naked eye.

to show that the Earth was not the center of the universe.5

Institute (STScI) was As recently as the beginning of the 20th

century, most astronomers still believed that the universe consisted of a single galaxy, the Milky Way— a collection of stars, dust and gas in the vastness of space. However, the universe as we knew it changed in 1924 when American astronomer Edwin Hubble used the 2.5 4-m

[ 100-in.] Hooker Telescope on Mount Wilson, near Los Angeles, to observe billions of other galaxies beyond the Milky Way.6

For astronomers like Edwin Hubble, there has always been a major obstacle to a clear view of the universe— the Earth’s atmosphere. Gases and airborne particulates in the atmosphere blur

established at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The staff of STScI managed the telescope’s observation time and data. NASA chose the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, USA, as the lead NASA field center for the design, development and construction of the space telescope. Perkin-Elmer Corporation, now Hughes Danbury Optical Systems, developed the optical telescope assembly and the fine-guidance sensor (FGS) system. On April 24, 1990, after numerous project delays, the space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Earth carrying the HST in its cargo bay. The following day, the school-bus-size space telescope was deployed in low-Earth orbit (above left). Free of atmospheric distortion, the giant telescope mirror began its mission of gathering photons from as far away as the edge of known universe.



Oilfield Review

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