Hubble Science Year in Review

Ann Jenkins, jenkins@stsci.edu

Communicating the wonder of exploration and the excitement of discovery are goals of the Hubble Space Telescope Science Year in Review.  Thousands of papers have been written on Hubble results, but the Science Year in Review distills the top annual discoveries into laymen’s terms—complete with full-color, top-flight graphics and illustrations, and a multitude of amazing Hubble images. The annual publication shares the story and science of Hubble to engage the public in the telescope’s spectacular success.

Begun in 2004, the Science Year in Review is the flagship annual publication on Hubble results, but it is also much more.  The book features an updated history of the telescope, a discussion of the design and current instrument configuration, a section on how operations are conducted, a series of profiles on Hubble team members, and a full-color poster. The upcoming volume—the 2009 edition—also describes the challenges of Servicing Mission 4 and showcases the early release observations.

The book is distributed free of charge to libraries, research institutions, and members of the science-attentive public. It is produced by a small cadre of people at the Institute and Goddard Space Flight Center who research, write, illustrate, design, and edit it.

The majority of the book involves interviewing astronomers about their cutting-edge research, then distilling that information into words and concepts that can be understood by the average citizen.  The Profiles section is also the product of interviews of a cross-section of Hubble teammates with a goal of painting each one as a complete person and showing their diverse talents and interests outside of the workplace.

Each year, the book’s “Operating Hubble” section follows a specific, large, and important observation, explaining how the campaign was planned and executed.  For 2009, this observation was the Hubble Ultra Deep Field IR, the infrared counterpart to the deepest-ever visible-light image, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 2004. The new observation—which used the near-infrared capability of Hubble’s newly installed Wide Field Camera 3—penetrates even more deeply into the same section of sky to see even more distant galaxies.

The science articles for the 2009 book run the gamut:  from an asteroid’s collision with Jupiter and a journey to the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy, to narrowing the possible explanations for dark energy—and nearly everything in between.

An effort is currently underway to place all of the editions of the Science Year in Review on line.  As of now, only 2006, 2007, and 2008 are on line, but eventually, the full complement will be available. The user is given the option of downloading a pdf of each complete volume, or of downloading just a single chapter or section. The on-line versions are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which means each document can be read by a screen-reading machine for the sight-impaired.

To view the on-line editions of the Science Year in Review, please click here.

In chronicling the story of Hubble and its history of discovery, the Science Year in Review series keeps the public regularly apprised on Hubble’s robust program of exploration.  A wonderful addition to any science library, this book is a tribute to the many people who make the Hubble mission possible.