Press Release

Advanced Camera for Surveys Set for February Shuttle Launch

By SpaceRef Editor
February 5, 2002
Filed under , ,

The Ball Aerospace & Technologies
Corp.-built Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) is ready for its
anticipated February launch aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia. The
ACS instrument has been installed in the science instrument protective
enclosure and will be removed from Columbia’s shuttle bay and
installed on the Hubble Space Telescope during the Feb. 28 Hubble
Servicing Mission 3B. ACS replaces the Faint Object Camera (FOC),
which astronauts will remove from Hubble and return to Earth.

Ball Aerospace designed and built ACS for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight
Center and the Principal Investigator, Dr. Holland Ford at Johns
Hopkins University.

The addition of ACS to Hubble is expected to allow the great observatory
to survey more areas of the sky with higher efficiency than the camera
that took the original Hubble Deep Field observations. ACS is predicted
to increase Hubble’s discovery efficiency by a factor of 10. To survey
a deep core sample that looks back in time to shortly after stars and
galaxies began to form required about 20 days of dedicated Hubble
observations with the Wide Field/Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). With the
Ball Aerospace-built ACS, that type of observation can be accomplished
in less than three days. ACS greatly improves the telescope’s
productivity, allowing the discovery of celestial objects far beyond
the reach of current Hubble instruments and in a fraction of the time.

ACS, as Hubble’s new imaging workhorse, will survey far regions of the
universe, search for extrasolar planets and observe weather and other
features on planets in our own solar system. The instrument is
sensitive to wavelengths ranging from ultraviolet to the far red
(115-1050 nanometers). This phone booth-sized instrument consists of
three specialized channels, each of which enables ACS to contribute
to astronomy and cosmology in different ways.

The wide field channel surveys the universe, the high-resolution
channel captures the details and the solar blind channel sees in the
shorter wavelengths of ultraviolet light.

The 3B mission is the fourth shuttle visit to Hubble. NASA split the
third servicing mission into two parts, completing 3A in December of
1999. Hubble was built with the intention of servicing it periodically
in orbit during its 20-year operation 360 miles above Earth.

On Servicing Mission 4, scheduled for 2004, astronauts will install
two additional Ball Aerospace-built instruments: the Cosmic Origins
Spectrograph (COS), which will be the most sensitive ultraviolet
spectrograph on Hubble; and the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), Hubble’s
first truly panchromatic camera, under development jointly with Goddard
Space Flight Center.

Ball Aerospace’s contributions to the Hubble Space Telescope are
substantial. By the final servicing mission, all of the instruments
aboard the observatory will be Ball Aerospace-built. The seven
instruments Ball Aerospace designed and built for Hubble are: the
Goddard High-resolution Spectrograph, one of the original science
instruments installed in 1990 and removed in 1997; the Corrective
Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement, the supplemental optics
installed into Hubble in 1993 that successfully convcted the
spherical aberration of Hubble’s primary mirror for the axial
instruments; the Near-infrared Camera and Multi-object Spectrometer,
the first of two axial replacements installed in 1997; the Space
Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, the second of two axial replacements
installed in 1997; ACS, COS and WFC3.

Each of these science instruments incorporated technological advances
that provided Hubble with new capabilities to help scientists peer
into the heavens deeper than ever before, take data at higher
resolution, or conduct investigations in different portions of the
electromagnetic spectrum.

Ball Aerospace also built the star trackers that help Hubble orient
itself in space in support of scientific observations.

Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. provides imaging and communications
products for commercial and government customers worldwide and is a
subsidiary of Ball Corporation (NYSE:BLL), a Fortune 500 company which
had sales of $3.7 billion in 2000.

Forward-Looking Statements:

The information in this news release may contain forward-looking
statements. Actual results or outcomes may differ materially from those
expressed or implied. Please refer to the Form 10-K filed by Ball
Corporation on Nov. 14, 2001, for a summary of the key risk factors
that could affect actual results or outcomes. Key risk factors may
include, but are not limited to, technical difficulties, and
authorization, funding and availability of government contracts.


[ (694KB)]
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. optical technician, Dave Rusling
performs a final inspection on the Advanced Camera for Surveys. Image
courtesy of Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

SpaceRef staff editor.