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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Oct 18, 2011 5:01:08 GMT -6
Hubble Space Telescope to Target 2012 Transit of Venus
The Hubble Space Telescope will be aimed at the moon to detect dips in brightness during the 2012 transit of Venus. In an interview explaining how the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) allocates time on the telescope, Dr. Matt Mountain, STScI Director, describes a clever, high risk project with potential for high return that was selected among the 1,000+ proposals.
While astronomers can discern the atmosphere of big planets 150 light years away, they seek to detect the atmospheres of smaller earth-size planets as well. To mimic looking at a small exoplanet, the Hubble Space Telescope will measure small changes in light reflected off the moon as Venus diminishes the sunlight slightly when the inner planet passes between the sun and earth on June 5-6, 2012.
"We don't know if it will work, but it's worth a shot," Mountain said. "If it does work, we'll get an idea of what earth-size would look like...It will guide us in the future if we ever see dip like it; we're seeing a very small planet...It's quite a risky project, but the payoff would be quite remarkable, for we'd actually be able to measure the atmosphere of Venus using the Hubble Space Telescope."
Hmmm.....and for years....the public was informed that aiming the Hubble at the Moon would overwhelm the sensors.
Perhaps the final repair mission allows this now.
Chicago Astronomer Joe Founder, Administrator and Chief Astronomer
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Post by Paulie pchris00 on Oct 19, 2011 8:48:21 GMT -6
I saw this a couple weeks ago. I think it's a great idea.
My understanding is that Hubble has been aimed at the Moon more than any other other object (or I might be confusing it with Earth). STScI uses either the Moon or Earth to calibrate cameras. I forgot the details, but I read it during the last Hubble Mission on Phil Plait's "Bad Astronomy" blog. Also, as an astrophysicist and Hubble repairman, John Grunsfeld was awarded time on Hubble. He used his time during the International Year of Astronomy 2009 to observe Tycho's rays. He talked about it during the July 2009 "Adler Night & Day" podcasts (he was on two episodes; I forgot which one he talked about the Tycho observation).
"Just a boy, just an ordinary boy, but he was looking to the sky." -Vanessa Carlton
Post by Paulie pchris00 on Jan 13, 2012 15:30:39 GMT -6
Why should we practice Transit of Venus observations? Because the Space Telescope Science Institute thinks it's important enough to practice with the Hubble Space Telescope. Wednesday, HST spent several orbits targeting the Moon. I'm guessing the ToV data will be compared to Wednesday's data to measure the reduction of light during the transit.