UVSTAR, 1995

Lyle Broadfoot

We got a program going under NASA, which was under the rocket program. It was an ultraviolet telescope [UVSTAR, the Ultraviolet Spectrograph Telescope for Astronomical Research]. We observed short of 1200 angstroms, and that region is—there’s no transparent optics. So it’s an issue of building fairly specialized instrumentation.

In that case, we were looking a little bit at the atmosphere but mostly we were looking at planets from the shuttle. In particular we were trying to image Jupiter, and get the signature actually of the torus. That worked pretty well. That was a good mission. We were up seven times—seven shuttle missions. The last one was in ’98. We flew all our instrumentation—we flew two telescopes and the GLO [Arizona Airglow] Instrument. And we flew John Glenn.

That was the last mission because other things were going on that kind of precluded us looking at the ultraviolet on planets. The Galileo mission was approaching Jupiter, so they were going to take over from anything we had figured out. We would be in the Goddard Spacecraft Center just outside of Washington, in what we called POCC, Payload Operations Control Center. Once the shuttle got up, they would open the bay doors and they would start it up. We had ground control of the instrument. The only thing the astronauts did for us was to turn the power on, up until they closed the doors. The last two or three flights, we actually had three instruments up at the same time, the GLO, the UVSTAR, and Starlight.