With repairs, Hubble could keep taking pictures like this until 2013.
With repairs, Hubble could keep taking pictures like this until 2013. (Nasa-esa Photo Via Associated Press)
Wednesday, November 1, 2006

NASA's New Direction: Shuttle Crew to Fix Hubble

· Reversing an earlier decision, NASA said yesterday it will send a shuttle crew to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. Without repairs and new parts, the 16-year-old telescope could stop operating properly before the end of the decade, astronomers predict.

The shuttle mission will probably be in early 2008, the space agency said, and could keep Hubble working until about 2013.

Among its successes, Hubble enabled direct observation of the universe as it was 12 billion years ago. Its spectacular images also interested more people in astronomy.

After the 2003 Columbia shuttle disaster, NASA called a Hubble repair mission too risky. But the agency said it's a "go" now because astronauts are able to repair launch damage in flight. Also, a second shuttle will stand by in case there's an emergency.

Florida Weighs Gator Aid

· Florida officials might take alligators off their endangered list and allow homeowners to deal with any that wander onto their land. However, trappers say gators are too dangerous for non-pros to handle.

Alligators, once thought to be nearly extinct, are thriving in Florida. By one estimate, there is one gator for every nine people.

Halloween Oddities

· German police, responding to reports of masked people waiting in a car outside a bank, found three kids wearing Halloween masks.

· A scary sculpture of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, from Washington Irving's 1819 short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," was unveiled near Irving's grave in New York. The sculpture is 18 feet tall. It would be even taller if the horseman still had his head on!

· The spider that Elysia Holland-Kyzer found in her half-eaten bag of grapes wasn't the fake, trick-or-treat kind. It was a real black widow. Elysia, who is 9 and lives in Kansas, won't be eating more grapes for a while, her mom said.

Correction: A Monday article incorrectly referred to the "Hindu" language. Hindi is a language in India; Hindu is a religion.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company