Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

December 24, 1999
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
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Hubble Holiday
Picture Credit: STS-82 Crew, NASA

Explanation: How would you like to spend your holiday in low earth orbit? That's what the crew of the space shuttle Discovery is doing as they deliver six new gyros and a faster main computer to the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope has been holding in safe mode since November 13 and will use the timely "gifts" to resume its exploration of the distant Universe. This mission, STS-103, is the third mission to service the famous space observatory which was placed in orbit by Discovery on April 25, 1990. Seen here in a 1997 picture from STS-82, the second servicing mission, the space telescope, flanked by its gold-colored solar panels, hangs above the shuttle payload bay. The Earth's bright limb is in the background. Discovery closed with the Hubble on Tuesday and crew members are conducting space walks to install the new equipment. Discovery is scheduled to return to Earth after Christmas, with a December 27 landing at Kennedy Space Center - but you can e-mail season's greetings to the orbiting crew.

Tomorrow's picture: Earth Ornament

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.