September 26, 2017

Review: Hubble 3D IMAX.

Experience Hubble the IMAX way!

Experience Hubble the IMAX way!

 

   After much anticipation, we finally had a chance to make the pilgrimage to the Kennedy Space Center earlier this week to catch the IMAX film Hubble: 3D! All we’ve got to say is…wow! This is definitely one not to miss. Hubble 3D  takes you from the launch pad to on-orbit repairs following the crew of STS-125 as they train for a mission that almost never was. But the film is more than simply a tale of a telescope; Hubble 3D is no less than a testament to mans quest for understanding in the universe. Some of the 3-Dimensional fly-arounds were particularly captivating; I felt as if I could reach out and touch some of those proto-solar cocoons in M42 as we dived in!

The directors of the film also had their work cut out for them; STS-125 footage was shot on real film and the directors had less than 10 minutes of footage to work with on board Atlantis! Needless to say, there were no “second takes” from low Earth orbit… the astronauts also had to perform some delicate maintenance procedures that were never intended to be conducted in orbit. The footage was inter-spliced with shots from earlier Hubble repairs, as well as some excellent footage of Hubble on Earth in the clean room. We also follow the astronauts as they train in the Neutral Buoyancy Lab in the Johnson Spaceflight center for such a complicated mission. Currently, the Kennedy Space Center is playing Hubble 3D back-to-back in both of its IMAX theaters, and locally in the Astroguyz universe, the Museum Of Science & Industry (MOSI) has plans to show the film, as well. Do catch this one on the ultra-big screen; films like Hubble 3D deserve it!

The film also came out just in time for Hubble’s 20th anniversary in space this month. The STS-125 mission generated more publicity than any shuttle flight in recent memory; it’s outstanding to show how the manned space program can generate a solid science return to the public. Hubble has defined our age, and has proven versatile in virtually every sub-field of astronomy. A whole new generation of astronomy PhDs owes their careers to the telescope that simply will not die.

But the mission was not without its drama. Aside from the fact that NASA directors were leery to perform the mission after the 2003 Columbia disaster, a revolutionary rescue plan had to be devised. In the event of damage to the Atlantis orbiter, astronauts could not seek a safe haven aboard the International Space Station; the film shows how a second orbiter was on quick reaction standby to come to Atlantis’ rescue. Such a mission would have been dramatic on an Apollo XIII scale, but thankfully was not needed.

Some of the critical repairs were also captured on film. Mike Massimino (A.K.A. the “tweeting astronaut”) had to crawl into the Hubble wearing his bulky spacesuit, all the while avoiding the bumping the delicate star trackers. When a stubborn external handle started giving him problems, Mission Control came up with the technical procedure of “just break it off!”

The STS-125 mission was an unqualified success. Hubble 3D was definitely a highlight of this week’s visit to the KSC; next up will be to watch the dawn launch of STS-131 from our backyard Monday morning.  

This month is turning into “Hubble month” here at Astroguyz, as we highlight the accomplishments of the famed telescope. For a good back story to the film, check out last year’s review of The Universe in a Mirror. All look for Hubble in a sky near you via Space Weather and make the effort to see Hubble 3D. We would definitely catch this one again!

New pics courtesy of a refurbished Hubble! (Credit: NASA/ESA).

New pics courtesy of a refurbished Hubble! (Credit: NASA/ESA).

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