April 4, 2008
After eighteen years of observing the Universe, the Hubble Space Telescope is about to be upgraded and repaired by NASA’s Shuttle astronauts in the summer of this year. This will breathe new life into a telescope that has been described as the most productive in history. This talk will discuss some of Hubble’s results, describe what we hope to achieve in this last servicing mission, and how we manage the Hubble science operation on behalf of NASA and the science community. In addition I will show how some of the science programs and the way we operate Hubble are paving the way for a very different space observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The James Webb will open up new opportunities for space science in the same way the Hubble did in the 1990’s. I will also discuss briefly the challenges of launching a 6.5m cryogenic telescope out to L2. As we look to the future, how this perspective has led the Space Telescope Science Institute to take another look at our successful partnership with NASA’s human spaceflight program as we explore the types of space observatories we will need in the 2020 timeframe.
Matt Mountain has been the Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, since September 1, 2005, leading the 400-person institute that is responsible for the research done with the Hubble Space Telescope, and its planned successor the James Webb Space Telescope. Matt was previously the Director of the Gemini Observatory, which is based in Hilo, Hawaii which has telescopes on Mauna Kea and on Cerro Pachon, in Chile. He is also the Telescope Scientist for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a member of the Webb Science Working Group, a Professor at Johns Hopkins Department of Physics and Astronomy and a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford (UK). Matt’s principle research interests have included star formation in galaxies (including our own), advanced infrared instrumentation, and the capabilities of advanced telescopes. He has published more than 100 research papers, articles, and reports. He is a fellow of the American Astronomical Society, the Royal Astronomical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and a member of the International Society for Optical Engineering. In 2003 Matt was awarded the Gabriela Mistral Medal for excellence in education by the Chilean Ministry of Education (the first time this award has been made outside of Chile) for the Gemini StarTeachers education program.