The ASTRO Observatory had three primary instruments: the
Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT), the Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope (HUT)
and the Wisconsin Ultraviolet Photo-Polarimeter Experiment (WUPPE). The
Astro Observatory was designed to use many of the spacelab components and
flew on two different shuttle flights.
The first Astro flight was on December 2-11, 1990, aboard the shuttle Columbia.
The X-ray experiment Broad Band X-Ray Telescope (BBXRT) was also part of the
The second flight was on March 2-18, 1995, aboard the shuttle Endeavour.
HUT obtained ultraviolet spectra of astronomical objects such as
quasars, active galactic nuclei, and supernova remnants, extending into
the little-explored ultraviolet range below 1200 Ångstroms. The
instrument consisted of a telescope, prime focus spectrograph, and intensified
photodiode array. Scientific studies have included research on
the cores of active
galaxies (where black holes likely reside), the torus of gas around
Jupiter created by its moon Io, the characteristics of the intergalactic
medium, and the stellar population in elliptical galaxies.
UIT consisted of a telescope and two image intensifiers with 70 mm film
transports. The instrument acquired images of faint objects in broad
ultraviolet bands in the wavelength range of 1200 to 3200 Ångstroms.
Astronomers have investigated the present stellar content and history of
star formation in galaxies, the nature of spiral structure, and
non-thermal sources in galaxies using UIT data.
WUPPE obtained both ultraviolet spectra and polarimetry
for celestial objects such as hot stars, galactic nuclei,
and quasars. The instrument included a telescope, spectropolarimeter,
and dual diode array detectors. Researchers have studied
the interstellar medium, mass loss from hot stars, interacting
binary stars, and active galaxies, among other topics.