As you may have heard, the Atlantis will be piloted by Gregory C. Johnson, a West Seattle High and UW alum. Moreover, UW astronomers helped develop a camera that is a key part of the mission. The hot new Wide Field Camera 3 will replace the old Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, which, says the UW press release, "has produced most of the
stirring images most associated with the orbiting telescope."
Still, the new one's even better. Says the release,
The new camera will make it possible to study the formation of hot massive stars that explode as supernovae at the end of their lives, and to explore how such stars evolve and interact with the clouds of dust and gas that they form. The new camera can probe the earliest stages of star and planet formation, and is the only way for scientists to find out how stars like ours form, evolve and die.
The best part of this is the opportunity it gives UW astronomer Bruce Balick, who helped develop the camera, the opportunity to talk shit to other academic fields.
"In other words, we can peer into our earliest history, at least in a statistical sense. I'd like to see a historian or a geologist try that," Balick said.