Oct. 21, 1998 -- A vibrant celestial photo album of some of NASA Hubble Space Telescope'smost stunning views of the universe is being unveiled today on theInternet.
Called the Hubble Heritage Program, this Technicolor gallery is beingassembled by a team of astronomers at Hubble's science operationscenter, the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, MD.
The Hubble Heritage program is intended to provide the public with someof the very best celestial views the Space Telescope has to offer. A "newly processed" Hubble "picture of the month" will be shared withthe public on an ongoing basis at a dedicated web site: http://heritage.stsci.edu. A new image will be posted on the firstThursday of every month.
The STScI team is sifting through Hubble telescope's treasure trove ofspace images to uncover some of the most striking pictures ever taken bythe orbiting observatory.
The Hubble images were originally taken for astronomical research. Theimages are digitally stored on optical disks in the Hubble archives forother scientists to retrieve for further research.
Aside from scientific value, the images offer compelling views of theuniverse's infinite wonders. They include all types of astronomicalphenomena, from nearby planets, to colorful nebulae, to remote galaxies.
The first batch of pictures released today includes a view into thestar-studded hub of our galaxy; Saturn in "natural color"; astellar-wind sculpted bubble carved by a massive hot star; and anoverhead view of a magnificent spiral galaxy, dubbed "sunny side up."
Since its launch in 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope has taken picturesof over 10,000 celestial objects. The most scientifically interestingobservations have been released to news organizations routinely. A largenumber of pictures have not previously been presented to the public.
The task of selecting images for the Hubble Heritage project involvesmore than just flipping through Hubble's 5.4-terabyte scrapbook of over130,000 space pictures. Beautiful color pictures have been meticulouslyassembled by skilled image processing specialists at STScI.
The images selected from the archive are originally black and white andmust be combined with other pictures of the same object, taken throughdifferent filters. Photographic film, home video cameras, and even thehuman eye reconstruct color views in a similar manner.
The Institute's image processing specialists carefully selected colorsto bring out the most detail in the pictures. These aesthetic picturescan also yield new insights into the nature of a celestial object.
The team continues working away on Hubble images, and assemblingenticing new views of celestial wonders for the public.
"These images communicate, at a visceral level, the awe and excitement that we experience when exploring the universe with Hubble. It is our chance to repay the public that supports us," saysHeritage program scientist Keith Noll.
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The Space Telescope Science Institute is operated by the Association ofUniversities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) for NASA, undercontract with the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD. TheHubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation betweenNASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).
EDITOR'S NOTE: Images and photo captions associated with this releaseare available on the Internet at:http://heritage.stsci.edu andhttp://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/1998/28 or via links inhttp://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/latest.html orhttp://oposite.stsci.edu/pubinfo/pictures.html.
Materials provided by Space Telescope Science Institute. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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