The University of Arizona-built ‘infrared eyes’ of the Hubble Space
Telescope are to be reopened to the universe in the NASA’s next shuttle
mission. A new infrared image of the “Pillars of Creation” is a glimpse of
what is to come.

Scientists will show the new infrared images taken with the UA-built
infrared camera on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) during a Feb. 15
NASA-televised news briefing on the upcoming shuttle mission to the

The images were taken by UA astronomy Professor Rodger I. Thompson, Arizona
State University Professor Jeff Hester, and former UA planetary scientist
Brad Smith. They show a very different view of the famous “Pillars of
Creation” optical image that Hester took with the HST optical camera in

NASA’s David Leckrone will show the images as part of a one-hour HST Science
Overview briefing that begins at about 10:30 a.m. MST (12:30 p.m. EST). The
overview is part of a daylong program of briefings that will air live on
NASA television from NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston, and from NASA
Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Seven astronauts will board Columbia Feb. 28 for an 11-day mission to
upgrade and enhance the 2.4-meter Hubble.

UA scientists are intensely interested because the goal of one of five
planned spacewalks is to revitalize NICMOS, the infrared camera and
spectrometer built by UA scientists for the HST. The crew is to install an
experimental cooling system and an associated radiator for NICMOS.

The new NICMOS image of the Eagle Nebula, taken before the camera’s coolant
was expended in 1999, demonstrates the importance of restoring the Hubble’s
“infrared eyes,”said Thompson, who is principal investigator on NICMOS. He
will attend the NASA briefing in Washington, D.C., not as a member of the
briefing panel but to field questions on NICMOS at the conclusion of the

Panelists scheduled to give the HST Science Overview briefing are Ed Weiler,
associate administrator, Office of Space Science, NASA Headquarters; HST
Project Scientist Leckrone of the Goddard Space Flight Center; Holland Ford,
principal investigator for the Advanced Camera for Surveys; and Ed Cheng,
lead scientist on the NICMOS Cooling System.

NASA Television is available on GE-2, Transponder 9C, at 85 degrees west
longitude, vertical polarization, with a frequency of 3880 MHz, and audio of
6.8 MHz.

Contact Thompson at the conclusion of the Feb. 15 science briefing, 1:30
p.m. EST (11:30 a.m. MST) by leaving a voicemail message at his UA phone
number, 520-621-6527. He catches a 5 p.m. plane back to Arizona.

***(EDITORS NOTE: Media who want to interview any of the Hubble team can
contact Donald L. Savage of the NASA HQ Public Affairs Office, 202-358-1727,, or Nancy G. Neal of the Goddard Space Flight Center
Public Affairs Office, 301-286-1707,

Contact Information

Rodger I. Thompson, University of Arizona