The undeniable impact of the four women behind Hubble’s unparalleled victories

The undeniable impact of the four women behind Hubble's unparalleled victories

They have tasted the deadly weightlessness of space, devoted millions of dollars to advancing astronomical research, studied millions of light-years to determine the age of the universe, and convinced the United States Congress to take the boldest step humans have ever taken in astronomy. , Support.

To commemorate the 31st anniversary of Hubble, let’s take a look at the brilliant record of four dedicated and talented women in astronomy who contributed to the success of the Hubble Space Telescope as a cultural and scientific symbol.

Dr. Nancy Grace Roman

The first person on the list is Nancy Grace Roman, who is remembered as “Hubble’s mother”. His first encounter with astronomy was at a young age, when he and his mother stared at the night sky to see constellations, and his mother taught him the names of celestial shapes. Years later, Roman was NASA’s first director of astronomy and the first woman to lead the space agency, and she worked hard to see the wider horizon of the universe.

He struggled to fund Hubble early on to build an observatory in orbit; He argued that for every movie ticket price, every American could be given years of scientific discovery. At a time when science was considered a masculine profession, he was ahead of many men; In 1946, astronomer Lehman Spiters imagined a telescope in space, but it was Roman who fought valiantly to make that dream come true.

Supervising the planning and development of the Cosmic Background Explorer project, which was launched in 1989, and endorsing the Big Bang theory are other important steps he has taken. Dr. Nancy Grace Roman died in 2018 at the age of 93 while the scientific community owed her services.

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Astronaut Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan

In 1984, the first American female astronaut stepped into space, and she was none other than Katie Sullivan. In 1990, when Hubble was launched, Sullivan was still willing to do so.

He was a member of his five-man crew on the Discovery space shuttle, and their mission was to deploy Hubble in Earth orbit so that they could open new windows into the universe; But this was not the end of Sullivan’s sacrifices for science! During the expedition, one of Hubble’s solar panels was unfolding, and Sullivan voluntarily left the space shuttle and opened it; However, there was no need to take any risks and the incident was quickly followed up from the ground.

The solar panels power Hubble, but at the last minute the power was not enough to power the space telescope, and the controller on the ground, with a quick and useful thought, was able to disable the software command that caused the problem; But that does not affect Sullivan’s courage in any way.

In 1991, he received the Haley Space Flight Award for “Outstanding Performance in Deploying the Hubble Space Telescope on the STS-31 April 1990 Shuttle Mission.” Sullivan completed another flight mission in 1992; After spending more than 530 hours in space on three missions, oceanographer Sullivan left NASA in 1993 to begin research and work as a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Of course, Sullivan also held other positions at NOAA, including head of the organization and vice president.

Sullivan was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2004. “The images and results of Hubble’s research have somehow penetrated public communication and become entwined with popular culture that I have never seen any other tool with this impact, and that ‘s really amazing to me,” he said in 2019.

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Barbara Mikulski (Sen. Barbara Mikulski)

If Nancy Grace Roman is Hubble’s mother; So American Senator Barbara Mikolski deserves the title of “Hubble Godfather.” Mikolski, a retired Maryland senator, was a major supporter and promoter of the Hubble Project and repeatedly defended Hubble during his tenure from 1987 to 2017. Barbara Mikolski is not only a significant contributor to Hubble, but also an important supporter of the next generation of the James Webb Space Telescope.

In 1994, when the Hubble light problem was repaired with the help of the mission team; “The Hubble problem is solved,” he proudly announced at a news conference.

When the planned Hubble mission was canceled in 2004 in the wake of the Columbia space shuttle disaster, Mikolski played a key role in giving Hubble a second chance; Because this scientific capital of the country was too young to give up hope. His compassion and tireless efforts in 2009 eventually led to the organization of Mission 4, and it was through him that Hubble was able to do its job properly by this decade and into 2020.

The Hubble Space Telescope Science Institute, the Hubble Center for Scientific Operations, named Barbara Mikolski one of the world’s largest astronomical data archives in 2012 to honor her valuable services and contributions. This large science base, called MAST, includes astronomical observations of several important space missions, as well as Hubble.

In 2012, when Hubble spotted an exploding star in the distance, it was named in honor of Barbara Mikolski, Mikulski’s supernova. Mikolski joined the Johns Hopkins University after retiring from the Senate in 2017 as a professor of public policy and advisor to the president.

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Dr. Wendy Freeman

It was not long after the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope that Wendy Friedman became world famous for leading a team of 30 astronomers; The team carried out the basic Hubble project to measure the current expansion of the universe. This measurement was one of the most important tasks of this telescope, which was known as the Hubble constant (named after the American astronomer Edwin Hubble, who discovered the expansion of the universe in 1920).

Another turning point was measuring the age of the world. When Hubble was launched, the rate of expansion of the universe was not double-digit, which meant that the age of the universe could be between 9.7 billion years and 19.5 billion years; But after years of research, Friedman’s research team estimated the age of the universe at about 13.7 billion years with a 10 percent error.

This accurate measurement was made using distance to adjacent galaxies using variable cephalic stars; Friedman and his colleagues, along with other astronomers, then worked to reduce the error in the Hubble constant measurement.

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Friedman’s life at the Carnegie Observatory has been very useful; He received a Carnegie Scholarship for Observatories in 1984, joined the College in 1987, and became a Director in 2003. Friedman is currently chair of the Magellan Telescope at the University of Chicago, which is currently under construction at the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile.

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