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Hove, Arthur (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 62, Number 14 (June 1961)

Star-gazing satellites,   p. 18


Page 18


A N ADVENTUROUS PROJECT to
     launch satellite observatories capa-
 ble of taking precise astronomical
 measurements from high altitudes in
 space is under way at the University.
   Under a $104,992 contract between
 the University and the National Aero-
 nautics and Space Administration, the
 UW is one of five institutions partici-
 pating in NASA's orbiting observatories
 program. The ot h e rs are Harvard,
 Princeton, the Smithsonian Institution,
 and NASA's own Goddard Space Labo-
 ratories.
   Prof. Arthur D. Code, chairman of
 the astronomy department, explains that
 for the immediate future, the work in
 this cooperative effort will be concen-
 trated on launching three satellites to
 carry telescopes of various sizes and to
be devoted to problems concerned with
ultra-violet light. At altitudes in excess
of 100 miles, the "flying" observatories
will escape the problems presented by
the earth's atmosphere. They should
then be able to see the ultra-violet light
that comes from the stars and to trans-
mit their measurements Lto earth by
electronic methods.
   The first of the orbiting observatories
will carry a number of small telescopes
for UW experiments on the brightness
of stars in the ultra-violet. Wisconsin
will share this satellite with the Smith-
sonian Institution which will be doing
photography of the skies by television
techniques in the ultra-violet. The sec-
ond satellite will carry an ultra-violet
spectrograph for the Goddard Space
Labs; the third, a high dispersion ultra-
violet spectrograph for Princeton.
  It is planned to lift the observatories
into orbit with Atlas rockets topped
with Agena B Boosters. A number of
these Agenas have already been success-
fully launched in other space experi-
mentation, Code points out, "and there
will be many more before ours go up."
  Wisconsin hopes to get the first of
the orbiting observatories into space by
1963. UW scientists hope, also, that
once orbited, a satellite will continue to
operate satisfactorily for at least a year.
  UW astronomers will be responsible
for the design of the telescope instru-
mentation "and for everything necessary
to carry out the actual experiments."
According to Dr. Code they will con-
struct experimentally  some parts in
order to test out certain ideas.
Prof. Arthur D. Code and Prof. Theodore E. Houck looking over a piece of
apparatus
that will be used in conjunction with the satellite observatories program.
Star-Gazing
       Satellites
18
  Though the first satellite will carry
relatively small telescopes for Wiscon-
sin investigations, UW astronomers ex-
pect to launch later in the program a
single 'scope as much as 36-inches in
diameter and "something in the order
of a ton in weight.
   "We know what we're asking for,"
Prof. Code stressed, "but we don't
know how it will come out." Orbiting
observatories, he added, will be the
most complicated of any of the satellite
vehicles now under consideration.
  UW astronomers working on the
satellite project include: Dr. Code (in
a part-time capacity); Prof. Theodore
Houck, as director of the work; Robert
Bless and Dan Schroeder, project asso-
ciates; and a number of graduate stu-
dents.
     Wisconsin Alumnus, June, 1961


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