American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin this week
This week is the 211th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (the double-A-S, not to be confused with the triple-A-S, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which publishes Science magazine). I'm not there; this meeting is a bit too astronomy-focused for me. AAS has a Division for Planetary Sciences, and it's the DPS meetings that I go to. However, there is plenty of interesting news coming out this week at the AAS meeting, and it seems a host of space bloggers is in attendance. Pamela Gay (of Star Stryder) reports that she, Fraser Cain (of Universe Today) and Phil Plait (of Bad Astronomy) are moving about the conference "in a happy pack." You can find their reports on conference happenings on their blogs, but all their conference posts are being mirrored in one place, Astronomy Cast, so check it out for the latest from across the universe.
In particular, I recommend Phil's most recent post on the fourth and final Hubble Servicing Mission, currently planned for August 7 of this year. The servicing mission will be an incredibly busy one including: replacement of all six gyroscopes, installation of new batteries, replacement of one Fine Guidance Sensor, replacement of thermal insulation, installation of two new instruments (Wide Field Camera 3 and Cosmic Origins Spectrograph), repair of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph and the Advanced Camera for Surveys, and the installation of a mechanism that will aid in ending Hubble's life. The servicing mission should prolong that life by at least five years.
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