Chris Gainor

Hubble historian speaks to Nanaimo Astronomy Society

Author Chris Gainor to speak at astronomy society November meeting on Thursday (Nov. 24).

A man contracted by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration to write the history of the Hubble Space Telescope is the guest speaker for this week’s meeting of the Nanaimo Astronomy Society.

Chris Gainor, historian and author specializing in technology, space exploration and areonautics, will be talking about the orbiting telescope’s history, technological development and its contributions to modern astronomy and to modern space exploration.

Gainor, who lives in Victoria, is editor of Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly. He is also first vice-president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and a fellow of the British Interplanetary Society. Gainor is on a three-year contract with NASA to write the history of the Hubble Space Telescope, which went into operation in 1990.

“It’s been operating for 26 years in space and there’s been a few ups and downs, so to speak,” Gainor said, pointing out that the a major error in the instrument’s mirror was discovered after it was launched and it had to be retrofitted in orbit.

The defect turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Extra-vehicular missions to repair and service the instrument over the years have helped astronauts develop the art, science and technology of working in space.

“A lot of the lessons that they learned from servicing Hubble have been applied to servicing the International Space Station,” Gainor said.

The telescope has been upgraded over the years to increase its capabilities and today is a much more powerful device than when it was launched. One of its chief accomplishments has been to help determine the size and age of the universe.

The Hubble will likely remain in operation some years to come, likely into the 2030s. Its orbit will ultimately decay to the point where it brushes the upper atmosphere. A mount has been attached to the telescope’s frame to accept a de-orbiting module that will allow a controlled re-entry over an ocean.

The Hubble’s replacement, the James Webb Space Telescope is expected to be launched in 2018.

“It’s going to be far bigger than the Hubble, although it’s going to be operating mainly in the infra-red part of the spectrum because that lets you look further back in history,” Gainor said.

The Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s November meeting happens Thursday (Nov. 24) at Beban Park social centre from 7-9:15 p.m.

Admission is free for society members and first-time meeting attendees.

For more information, please visit the society website at www.nanaimoastronomy.com.

A man contracted by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration to write the history of the Hubble Space Telescope is the guest speaker for this week’s meeting of the Nanaimo Astronomy Society.

Chris Gainor, historian and author specializing in technology, space exploration and areonautics, will be talking about the orbiting telescope’s history, technological development and its contributions to modern astronomy and to modern space exploration.

Gainor, who lives in Victoria, is editor of Quest: The History of Spaceflight Quarterly. He is also first vice-president of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and a fellow of the British Interplanetary Society. Gainor is on a three-year contract with NASA to write the history of the Hubble Space Telescope, which went into operation in 1990.

“It’s been operating for 26 years in space and there’s been a few ups and downs, so to speak,” Gainor said, pointing out that the a major error in the instrument’s mirror was discovered after it was launched and it had to be retrofitted in orbit.

The defect turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Extra-vehicular missions to repair and service the instrument over the years have helped astronauts develop the art, science and technology of working in space.

“A lot of the lessons that they learned from servicing Hubble have been applied to servicing the International Space Station,” Gainor said.

The telescope has been upgraded over the years to increase its capabilities and today is a much more powerful device than when it was launched. One of its chief accomplishments has been to help determine the size and age of the universe.

The Hubble will likely remain in operation some years to come, likely into the 2030s. Its orbit will ultimately decay to the point where it brushes the upper atmosphere. A mount has been attached to the telescope’s frame to accept a de-orbiting module that will allow a controlled re-entry over an ocean.

The Hubble’s replacement, the James Webb Space Telescope is expected to be launched in 2018.

“It’s going to be far bigger than the Hubble, although it’s going to be operating mainly in the infra-red part of the spectrum because that lets you look further back in history,” Gainor said.

The Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s November meeting happens Thursday (Nov. 24) at Beban Park social centre from 7-9:15 p.m.

Admission is free for society members and first-time meeting attendees.

For more information, please visit the society website at www.nanaimoastronomy.com.

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