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For Release: Feb. 28, 1997

Catherine E. Watson
(757) 864-6122

Release No. 97-015

Exploring Giant Planets with the Hubble Space Telescope

Our knowledge of the atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune have undergone striking new advances, due in part to the Hubble Space Telescope. Dr. Heidi B. Hammel, a scientist at MIT, will take her audience on a Hubble tour of the solar system'sgas giants on Tuesday, March 4, at 2 p.m. at the NASA Langley H.J.E. Reid Conference Center.

Hammel will emphasize the results from two recent Hubble programs: the study of the collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter, and the study of changes in Neptune's clouds. A media briefing with Hammel will take place at 1:15 p.m. in the Reid Center. Hammel will repeat her Hubble lecture at 7:30 p.m. at the Virginia Air & Space Center, Hampton.

Hammel has a bachelor's degree from MIT and a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Hawaii. Hammel is an acknowledged expert about the planet Neptune, and was a member of the Imaging Science Team for the Voyager 2 encounter with that planet in 1989. During the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter in July 1994, Hammel led the Hubble team that investigated Jupiter's atmospheric response to the collisions.

Hammel was the 1996 recipient of the Urey Prize from the American Astronomical Society, awarded for outstanding scientific research by a young planetary scientist. She also has been awarded several prizes in connection with public outreach, including the 1996 Spirit of American Women National Award for encouraging young women to follow non-traditional career paths.

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