Hubble mania

18 May

The repair of the Hubble telescope has been big NASA news, but I’m impressed with the way it’s been covered in the Twitterverse through spacewalk updates, astronaut tweets in orbit, and general chatter.

Hubble telescope, credit: NASA, STScI

Hubble telescope, credit: NASA, STScI

NASA has always had a great website and tends to go the extra mile to communicate what’s going on with the public. As a science journalist, I’ve found that they’re one of the easiest government agencies to work with: they tend to be really good about putting you in touch with scientists who are excited to talk about their work.

But in scanning the NASA twitter feeds today, I was particularly impressed by what twitter brings to the table in terms of public engagement and understanding of science. Here’s an exchange between @NASA and @sweetgreatmom:

@NASA What is the purpose for the thermal blanket?

@sweetgreatmom The blankets protect Hubble against solar degradation and space debris.

Curiosity and public engagement are essential to keeping science important in society. Though I don’t always know exactly what to do with Twitter myself, I’m delighted that it mediates this kind of communication between everyday people (taxpayers who fund this exploration) and the people who carry it out.

@NASA also quotes John Grunsfeld today, one of the astronauts who completed the final spacewalk to repair Hubble today: “Hubble isn’t just a satellite- it’s about humanity’s quest for knowledge.” It’s great that we all get to participate.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

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