Launch up from your couch and voyage to the final frontier this weekend with Hubble 3D, a hi-tech piece of visual wizardry from Warner Bros, IMAX, and NASA. The movie tracks the efforts of the astronauts on board mission STS-125, who blasted off aboard space shuttle Atlantis last May to fix the Hubble Space Telescope. For this mission, as DISCOVER explained in a review of the movie, Atlantis carried not only its regular payload of new gear for the telescope, but also a 600-pound IMAX camera to record the orbital repair job in breathtaking detail.
Apart from replacing worn out equipment and upgrading the world’s largest telescope so that it could continue to send home breathtaking images of the universe, the astronauts also functioned as cinematographers, using only eight minutes of film to shoot the repair work. The film also takes viewers on a tour of the telescope’s most famous observations, and explains what the ‘scope has revealed about such wonders as the stellar nurseries of the Orion nebula and our closest galactic neighbor, Andromeda. Director Toni Meyers, whose credits include a 3-D documentary about the international space station, says: “I think there is a kind of innate curiosity in all of us and a thirst to travel to places that either we can’t go to or it’s extremely difficult to do so” [CNN].
Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, this interstellar ride allows viewers to watch crew members working on the open body of Hubble in space even as politicians on Earth debated the telescope’s future. The brisk 40-minute film is also interspersed with vignettes of the astronauts’ pre-launch training in a gigantic underwater repair station.
While the astronauts were confident about their roles aboard the space shuttle, they were nervous of their filmmaking duties. “We’re basically a bunch of knuckleheads,” said [astronaut Michael] Massimino, a graduate of Columbia University with a doctorate from MIT. “Just because you can walk in space and fly a space shuttle doesn’t mean you’ll remember to turn a camera on and off” [CNN]. But director Meyers was more confident about the crews’ directorial and acting talents. “The crew is very engaging, with wonderful personalities…. They really show the audience how difficult it is to do what they were faced with up there”[DISCOVER], she says.
The film opens today, March 19th, in some theaters, but more shows are expected to be added in April when Hubble celebrates its 20th anniversary. For crew members, Hubble 3D was an especially exciting opportunity as they could finally share what they see and do in space with the rest of the world. Astronaut Micheal Massimino, a veteran of two space-walks aboard Atlantis exclaimed: “I tell folks … if you’re in heaven, this is what you would see…. This is what heaven must look like. It’s beautiful” [CNN].
Here’s a look at the making of Hubble 3D.
80beats:Hubble Spies Baby Galaxies That Formed Just After the Big Bang
80beats: Prepare to Be Amazed: First Pics From the Repaired Hubble Are Stunning
80beats: Space Shuttle Grabs Hubble, and Astronauts Begin Repairs
80beats: Researchers Find First Picture of An Exoplanet! (In 11-Year-Old Hubble Data)
Cosmic Variance: Well, That Was Fast, on the upgraded Hubble’s initial data
Bad Astronomy: Hubble’s Back, and Spying on Wailing Baby Stars