Nation & World News

NASA Has Shut Down Space Telescope Orbiting Earth

By Bill Chappell on July 3rd, 2013

NASA is sending a reliable servant into a retirement that will end with a fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere in about 65 years. That’s the fate that awaits the Galaxy Evolution Explorer, the “galaxy hunter” space telescope whose original 29-month mission was extended to more than 10 years.

Along the way, the orbiting system, known as GALEX, helped scientists study how galaxies and stars are born, and how they change over time.

Since its launch in the spring of 2003, GALEX photographed nebulae and spiral galaxies, and “used its ultraviolet vision to study hundreds of millions of galaxies across 10 billion years of cosmic time,” NASA says.

GALEX was shut down at 3:09 p.m. ET Friday, when a decommission signal was sent to the orbiting craft, according to NASA, which has also published a photo gallery of compelling images from the project.

“GALEX is a remarkable accomplishment,” says Jeff Hayes, NASA’s GALEX program executive in Washington. “This small Explorer mission has mapped and studied galaxies in the ultraviolet, light we cannot see with our own eyes, across most of the sky.”

The space agency published this list of highlights in GALEX’s career:

— Discovering a gargantuan, comet-like tail behind a speeding star called Mira.
— Catching a black hole “red-handed” as it munched on a star.
— Finding giant rings of new stars around old, dead galaxies.
— Independently confirming the nature of dark energy.
— Discovering a missing link in galaxy evolution — the teenage galaxies transitioning from young to old.

And they’re likely to be joined by other revelations, as the reams of data yielded by the space telescope project are reviewed. NASA and the California Institute of Technology, which manages the Jet Propulsion Lab for the space agency, plan to release the project’s most recent data to the public in the next 12 months.

“GALEX, the mission, may be over, but its science discoveries will keep on going,” says NASA’s Kerry Erickson, the mission’s project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Scientists Discover Evidence of a 435,000-Year-Old Murder

Scientists say it’s not just a murder from another era, but also part of one of the earliest mass graves.


Tracy Morgan, Wal-Mart Settle Lawsuit Over Truck-Limousine Crash

The actor sued the retail giant for negligence last year after he was seriously injured in a crash in which his limousine was struck by a Wal-Mart truck traveling 20 mph over the speed limit.


This rabbit wasn't the one killed in Denmark.

Danish Broadcaster Says Killing Of Rabbit On Air Highlighted Hypocrisy

The rabbit was clubbed to death during a debate on animal cruelty. Radio24syv says it wanted a debate about the hypocrisy toward perceptions of cruelty toward animals. Critics aren’t buying it.


Rick Santorum speaks in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sept. 24, 2012. The Republican announced Wednesday that he is running for president.

Rick Santorum Announces Presidential Run

The former Republican senator from Pennsylvania appeals to his party’s social conservatives. Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucuses in 2012, but this time around he faces a crowded Republican field.


Research Chimps Get Their Day In Court In New York

But neither Hercules nor Leo, who are at the center of a legal battle over whether chimpanzees should have the same legal rights as people, were physically present in the Manhattan courtroom.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments