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Southampton astronomy expert to attend

Published: 
15 February 2002

Astronomy expert Dr Malcolm Coe of the University of Southampton's Department of Physics and Astronomy will be heading for Florida later this month to witness the space shuttle lift-off at the start of a mission to upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope.

He will be there at the invitation of US astronaut and friend, John Grunsfeld, as John prepares to take off from the Kennedy Space Centre on 28 February as Payload Commander on Shuttle mission STS-109. John is also a trained astronomer and will responsible for a major upgrade of Hubble.

"Not since Galileo has one instrument so changed humanity's view of the Universe," says Dr Coe. "The amazing depth and clarity of the images from Hubble have set a new "gold standard" in astronomy. With the Hubble Service Mission the observatory will get a major overhaul and a new lease of life to see it through the next decade.

"Astronomers here at Southampton plan to make full use of this re-vamped telescope by extending their observations of white dwarfs, black holes and neutron stars - the main themes of their work."

Notes for editors

  1. Dr Coe will be leaving the UK for Florida on 26 February. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £215 million.
  2. The Department of Physics & Astronomy has just been graded 5* for its research, one of only 5 such departments in the country.

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