PI Perspectives


Michael A'Hearn

Michael A’Hearn - Deep Impact

Until a few years ago, Michael A’Hearn had viewed Ball Aerospace as a specialist in scientific instruments and as an exceptionally visible presence at science meetings. He had been impressed with Ball’s COSTAR optics to repair the Hubble Space Telescope in 1993, the astronomer and University of Maryland distinguished professor recalled, to the point that he had been “amazed that it worked.”

It turned out A’Hearn would lead the mission cementing Ball Aerospace’s reputation as a deep-space player: Deep Impact, NASA’s $330-million Discovery Program mission to see what was inside the comet Tempel 1.

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William Borucki

William Borucki

William Borucki - Kepler

Eight years passed from John F. Kennedy’s 1961 speech about men on the moon to the first small step onto lunar dust. William Borucki’s dream of launching a spacecraft to observe distant stars for evidence of planets hospitable to life took three times longer to realize. Borucki, of NASA’s Ames Research Center, is the progenitor and scientific principal investigator of NASA’s $600-million Kepler mission, which is searching for planets around other stars.

Ball Aerospace built the Kepler spacecraft and its sole instrument, a telescope with a 1.4-meter primary mirror feeding light into a 95-megapixel photometer.

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Jim Green - Cosmic Origins Spectrograph

On the sixth day of the final space shuttle visit to the Hubble Space Telescope, astronauts John Grunsfeld and Andrew Feustel stepped into void to begin another long day of Hubble Space Telescope repairs. At the top of their agenda on May 16, 2009 was installing James Green’s Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, or COS. Green, the University of Colorado astrophysicist who had designed the spectrograph, was the $70-million instrument’s principal investigator.

The proposal demanded Hubble-specific expertise ranging from connectivity to compatibility, and Ball had either built or was slated to build five of the seven instruments that had been on Hubble to date – including the COSTAR corrective optics that helped restore the telescope’s blurred vision in 1993. "With this one, it was pretty obvious that Ball was the only way to go,” Green said.



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