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Class Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

It IS Rocket Science
Megan McArthur, Ph.D. ’02

Megan McArthur, Ph.D. ’02 is attired in a training version of her shuttle launch and entry suit at the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at Johnson Space Center.

In October, Megan McArthur, Ph.D. ’02, will blast off to join the elite group that has flown in space. McArthur will also be one of the last to say goodbye to the Hubble Space Telescope.

“ I don’t really know how it’s going to feel,” says McArthur about her mission on Atlantis. “I’m still thinking about what it’s going to be like to see the telescope for the first time.”

As the daughter of a naval aviator, McArthur has always been interested in flying. And in 2000, when she was studying oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, she finally realized her dream of becoming an astronaut when NASA selected her as a mission specialist.

STS-125 will be McArthur’s first spaceflight, departing for Hubble on October 8. Over 11 days and five spacewalks, the crew will upgrade and repair the telescope, extending its life for at least another five years. McArthur will control the shuttle’s robotic arm and 50-foot boom extension and sensor system, which will serve as a work platform as well as a mechanism to attach to the satellite, move structures and keep the astronauts hands free while doing their work.

Servicing the Hubble Space Telescope requires the crew to repair instruments that were not designed to be fixed in space, from gyroscopes to batteries to a fine guidance sensor. In addition they will install a Cosmic Origins Spectrograph to observe the light put out by extremely faint, far-away quasars, and a Wide Field Camera 3 to view ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths—all the while wearing zero gravity space suits.

— Serena Renner, ’08

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