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NASA'S Hubble Makes One Millionth Science Observation

July 05, 2011

Trent Perrotto 
Headquarters, Washington 

Ray Villard 
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore 

RELEASE: 11-217


WASHINGTON -- NASA's Hubble Space Telescope crossed another milestone 
in its space odyssey of exploration and discovery. On Monday, July 4, 
the Earth-orbiting observatory logged its one millionth science 
observation during a search for water in an exoplanet's atmosphere 
1,000 light-years away. 

"For 21 years Hubble has been the premier space science observatory, 
astounding us with deeply beautiful imagery and enabling 
ground-breaking science across a wide spectrum of astronomical 
disciplines," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. He piloted the 
space shuttle mission that carried Hubble to orbit. "The fact that 
Hubble met this milestone while studying a faraway planet is a 
remarkable reminder of its strength and legacy." 

Although Hubble is best known for its stunning imagery of the cosmos, 
the millionth observation is a spectroscopic measurement, where light 
is divided into its component colors. These color patterns can reveal 
the chemical composition of cosmic sources. 

Hubble's millionth exposure is of the planet HAT-P-7b, a gas giant 
planet larger than Jupiter orbiting a star hotter than our sun. 
HAT-P-7b, also known as Kepler 2b, has been studied by NASA's 
planet-hunting Kepler observatory after it was discovered by 
ground-based observations. Hubble now is being used to analyze the 
chemical composition of the planet's atmosphere. 

"We are looking for the spectral signature of water vapor. This is an 
extremely precise observation and it will take months of analysis 
before we have an answer," said Drake Deming of the University of 
Maryland and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. 
"Hubble demonstrated it is ideally suited for characterizing the 
atmospheres of exoplanets, and we are excited to see what this latest 
targeted world will reveal." 

Hubble was launched April 24, 1990, aboard space shuttle's Discovery's 
STS-31 mission. Its discoveries revolutionized nearly all areas of 
astronomical research from planetary science to cosmology. The 
observatory has collected more than 50 terabytes of data to-date. The 
archive of that data is available to scientists and the public at: 


Hubble's odometer reading includes every observation of astronomical 
targets since its launch and observations used to calibrate its suite 
of instruments. Hubble made the millionth observation using its Wide 
Field Camera 3, a visible and infrared light imager with an on-board 
spectrometer. It was installed by astronauts during the Hubble 
Servicing Mission 4 in May 2009. 

"The Hubble keeps amazing us with groundbreaking science," said Sen. 
Barbara A. Mikulski, the chairwoman of the Senate Commerce, Justice, 
Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee that funds 
NASA. "I championed the mission to repair and renew Hubble not just 
to get one million science observations, but also to inspire millions 
of children across the planet to become our next generation of 
stargazers, scientists, astronauts and engineers." 

Hubble is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the 
European Space Agency. Goddard manages the telescope. The Space 
Telescope Science Institute (STScI) conducts Hubble science 
operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of 
Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc. in Washington. 

For more information about Hubble, galleries of videos and images, 




For details about the exoplanet Kepler 2b, including an animation of 
its orbit, visit: 



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