Drs. Durrance and Parise have devoted more than a decade of their careers to the Astro project. But Dr. Durrance was so moved by the sheer beauty and fragility of the Earth during the first Astro flight that he began contemplating a career change.
"From orbit, [Earth] does not look like the robust entity I thought of it being before I went," he said at a recent "send-off" party in Baltimore with other members of the Hopkins team. "It looks very beautiful, fragile and very alone. There is nothing like it anywhere else that we can see."
The Endeavour crew -- five men and two women -- will operate the observatory in two shifts, 24 hours a day. They will be supported by scientific teams at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.
LET'S DO LAUNCH
A public launch party for the Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope will be held on the Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus on the night of the launch, now set for 1:37 a.m. Thursday.
"Let's Do Launch: Hopkins in Space" will include a videotape presentation on HUT discoveries during the first Astro mission in 1990, followed by a live screening of the Astro 2 launch from Cape Canaveral.
Dr. Nolan R. Walborn, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute and a guest investigator on the HUT project, will provide commentary.
The gathering is planned for 11 p.m. March 1 at Schafler Auditorium in the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy. Refreshments and guided tours of the center's rooftop observatory will be offered.