NASA instrument, which provided stunning images from space,
is featured in Hubble 3D IMAX and in special weekend programming on
October 16 and 17
DENVER - October 12, 2010 - Beginning this
Friday, October 15, the Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2,
WFPC2, will be on display for a limited time at the Denver Museum
of Nature & Science. The supercamera, which is the size
of a baby grand piano, is credited with saving the Hubble Space
Telescope mission and providing unprecedented and crystal clear
pictures of our universe.
"The Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 ranks right up there with
Galileo's telescope and Newton's apple, from a space science
standpoint," said Steven Lee, PhD, the Museum's curator of
planetary science. "From the public standpoint, this camera
is Hubble. Hosting the WFPC2 is an amazing opportunity our
museum, especially given the timing of our IMAX 3D grand opening
featuring the Hubble film and our Space and Sea Spectacular
scheduled for this weekend."
Museum visitors will have a unique opportunity to see this
remarkable scientific instrument, complete with several "craters"
in its outer skin that were caused by micrometeorite impacts during
its years in orbit. Special related programming will be
offered on Saturday, October 16, and Sunday, October 17, during the
Museum's Space and Sea Spectacular, which is included with general
admission. Additionally, visitors to the Museum's new IMAX 3D
theater will experience actual 3D footage taken in 2009 when
shuttle astronauts removed WFPC2 from Hubble.
The Story of the WFPC2
The WFPC2 camera replaced the first camera on board NASA's Hubble
Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990 with the promise that
it would bring in a new era of astronomical discovery. Soon
after the launch, NASA learned that the first camera had a
defective main mirror and transmitted only blurred images back to
Earth. After three years of work by NASA scientists, the
WFPC2 was installed and soon the camera began offering stunning,
razor-sharp images of our universe.
For 16 years, the WFPC2 offered front-row seats to the impact of
Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter, provided dramatic evidence for
super-massive black holes at the core of many galaxies, detected
thousands of galaxies in a "blank" region of the sky, observed
weather on many of our neighboring planets, and returned views of
star-birth in the Eagle Nebula's "Pillars of Creation." Many
of these images were not only incredibly valuable to scientists,
but also incredibly beautiful to the general public. Hubble
became "the people's telescope," and the WFPC2 was the workhorse
instrument of the mission; it was the camera that saved Hubble.
The WFPC2 was replaced with a new camera and returned to Earth
in 2009, during the final Shuttle mission to service the Hubble-and
this effort became the storyline of Hubble, now playing in IMAX 3D
at the Museum. Since May 2010, the camera has been on display
at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, where it was
built. Through a special loan arrangement with NASA, it will
make a brief stop in Denver while en route to NASA's Goddard Space
Flight Facility in Maryland.
Space & Sea Spectacular - IMAX 3D Opening
Free with Museum Admission on Saturday, October 16 and Sunday,
The Museum is celebrating the grand opening of its new IMAX 3D
theater with a weekend full of free special programs and activities
centered around space and sea. Visitors will learn about 3D
photography, view the Sun through solar telescopes, explore the
world of robotics, and take a look at some of the amazing sea
shells from the Museum's collections. Special guests will conduct
chemistry experiments, give tours of the universe, answer questions
about the fin whale skeleton floating overhead, and more.
Below are highlights.
- 12:30 p.m. on Sunday - Astronaut Emeritus Bruce McCandless II
shares stories of his space exploration and connection to the
Hubble. He worked on designing Hubble to be serviceable in
orbit, and was an astronaut on the April 1990 space shuttle mission
that carried the telescope into orbit. He will participate in
Q&A with the audience and be surrounded by dramatic space
images within the planetarium.
- 3 p.m. on Sunday - McCandless shows the WFPC2 and the explains
features engineered into Hubble and its instruments that allow for
the on-orbit "house calls" and have made Hubble one of the premier
scientific endeavors of all time
- 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday - Steve Lee, the Museum's
space science curator, will explain his use of the Hubble Space
Telescope and WFPC2 to observe weather on Mars.
IMAX 3D Digital Upgrades
The Museum recently completed digital upgrades to the latest IMAX
3D technology, which now delivers the world's most immersive movie
experience. Enhancements in the theater include IMAX's
powerful digital projection system, IMAX's latest digital sound
system, and a new IMAX screen.
Hubble 3D offers a gripping story full of hope, crushing
disappointment, dazzling ingenuity, bravery, and triumph. Hubble
recounts the amazing journey of the Hubble Space Telescope,
arguably the most important scientific instrument since Galileo's
original telescope and the greatest success in space since the moon
landing. Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio and presented with the
latest 3D technology, Hubble will change the way you see
the universe. Showing daily at 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4
p.m., with an additional showing at 6 p.m. on Fridays and
Saturdays. View the trailer and see ticket prices.