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Podcast: John Grunsfeld: Astronaut and Astronomer

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This summer, the world was watching as seven astronauts visited the Hubble Space Telescope and did the first ever on-orbit repairs in space. This fifth and final Shuttle mission to service Hubble has equipped the telescope with cutting-edge technology and extended its mission lifespan for several additional years. Here at the Astrophysics Science Division, we are excited about the data being captured by Hubble’s enhanced instruments, and the discoveries that are sure to come.

One of the astronauts on this mission, Dr. John Grunsfeld, is also an astrophysicist. We interviewed him about his experiences with Hubble as both a researcher and a repairman. He shared his thoughts about Hubble’s new capabilities, the value of astrophysics, and more. He also told us about a gorgeous image he snapped on a previous servicing mission and is now using as a screensaver – and you can download this image for your own computer!

Click to listen! (6.3MB MP3, right-click to save)
Transcript (Text, PDF)

Dr. Grunsfeld and Servicing Mission 4

Dr. John Grunsfeld was selected in 1992 as an astronaut candidate and has flown on five Shuttle flights, including three (out of five) of the Hubble Servicing Missions. He has spent over 58 days in space and taken five spacewalks. Dr. Grunsfeld is an astrophysicist by training and has participated in a variety of gamma-ray and X-ray research. To learn more about his career and experiences, check out these sites:

To find out more about SM4 and STS-125, visit:

In May 2009, we produced a podcast called “A Tale of Three Telescopes” about the two historic scopes brought on the Shuttle during the servicing mission. You can listen to that episode and read more .

Download Dr. Grunsfeld’s Screensaver

When we asked Dr. Grunsfeld about his screensaver, he shared that he is currently using an image of the Hubble Space Telescope over the Earth’s limb, taken by him during STS-109. You can download that image for your own use in a variety of resolutions:

  • 320 x 480
  • 800 x 600
  • 1024 x 768
  • 1600 x 1200
  • 3032 x 2007
  • (full resolution)

    Hosts Sara Mitchell
    Guests Dr. John Grunsfeld
    NASA Astronaut
    Editor Sara Mitchell
    Theme Music Naked Singularity
    Transcript Meredith Gibb
    Website Support Meredith Gibb
    Maggie Masetti
    Producer Sara Mitchell
    Executive Producer Anita Krishnamurthi
    Responsible NASA Official Kim Weaver


  • Les Murray says:

    I am really curious about what the Jesse Ramsden Telescope looked like. What were it’s optical characteristics? (Focal length, Aperature, F-Ratio, etc.) Just curious to compare. Did he look through the Ramsden telescope while in orbit? How did they protect it during travel??

  • Instrumental Music Engineer says:

    This is an amazing story. From what i understand the Hubble Space Telescope has been in space for over 20 years. Is there an archive of the images captures during this period of time?

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