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Mirrors Finished For James Webb Space Telescope

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the now-it-can-develop-self-awareness dept.

NASA 115

eldavojohn writes "On August 15th, sendoff ceremonies were held at Ball Aerospace (subcontractor to Northrop Grumman) for the 18 gold-coated, ultrasmooth, 4.2-foot (1.3 meters) hexagonal beryllium primary mirror segments that will comprise the 21.3-foot (6.5 m) primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Over 90% of the back material was taken out of these mirrors to make them light enough so that 18 could be launched into space where they must operate at minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 240 degrees Celsius). The mirrors will be adjusted by computer controlled actuators that are vital to JWST producing high-quality sharp images. The tennis court sized JWST will reside at L2 and is hyped to allow us to see 'back to the beginning of time.' NASA has provided a video of the computer animated metamorphosis with many more videos at the JWST site."

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yeah (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41067661)

We will REALLY be able to see boobies with that thing!

Re:yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41067853)

I'm not convinced, as an optical designer, that this telescope was really necessary. Hubble still has a lot of good work it can do and I worry about the public perception of this being a over-budget pork project. I really feel that it is more the politicians and the project leaders (who will get all the credit for the discoveries, not the grad students and postdocs!) who wanted this thing.

Re:yeah (4, Informative)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068211)

Here's The scientific case for the James Webb Space Telescope [springerlink.com] . The earliest galaxies are redshifted into wavelengths that the HST can't resolve.

Re:yeah (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41068349)

That article has 16 occurrences of the word 'Hubble' and none of them refer to what you mentioned. Even if there was that one particular advantage, I don't see it as compelling enough a project to risk damaging the reputation of the astronomy community. And as I mentioned, these big projects are often driven by the leaders who have in a sense a conflict of interest - no matter what science the telescope does, their careers benefit.

Re:yeah (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41068839)

In the fourth paragraph, page 490 (fifth page of the PDF) where (as in the preceding tables of abbreviations) it is referred to as "HST":

In the mid-1990s, the “HST and Beyond” committee recommended that NASA build an IR-optimized telescope to extend HST discoveries to higher red- shift and longer wavelength (Dressler, 1996).

Re:yeah (5, Informative)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068909)

Hubble = HST.Look again.
For instance:

The deepest images of the universe include the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field (UDF) in the optical (Beckwith et al., 2003), which reaches AB = 29.0 mag in the I band, HST near-IR images of the UDF, which reach AB = 28.5 in the J and H bands (Bouwens et al., 2005a), and the Spitzer Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (Dickinson, 2004), which reaches AB = 26.6 mag at 3.6 m. Galaxies are detected in these observations at 6

Or how about this:

Hierarchical Assembly: The dark matter mass function of bound objects at very high redshifts can be uniquely measured in two ways with JWST. First, the dynamics of groups of galaxies or sub-galactic fragments can be used to determine the typical masses of halos (Zaritsky and White, 1994).
These measurements require observations of emission lines in the rest-frame optical, such as [OII] 3727, [OIII] 5007, and H. These are very difficult to measure from the ground when redshifted into the near-IR.
Second, JWST will measure halo masses through the gravitational bending of light. Using this weak-lensing method, ground-based programs have measured the mass within 200–500 kpc of galaxies at redshifts of z 0.1 (McKay et al., 2002) and z 1 (Wilson et al., 2001). Using the superior resolution of HST, these measure- ments are likely to be extended into 30–50 kpc for galaxies at z 1 (e.g., Rhodes et al., 2004; Rhodes, 2004). While there are some hints of variable halo struc- tures for galaxies of different luminosity and total halo mass, the radial penetration of these surveys, and the ability to compare galaxies of different morphologies are
518 J. P. GARDNER ET AL.
limited by statistics. We expect that HST will establish the statistical mass functions for spiral and elliptical galaxies at z 1, but not much beyond that, because of its limited sensitivity and sampling at > 1.6 m.
JWST will extend the equivalent measurements of galaxies to z 2.5 and thus determine the development of the dark matter halos during the peak growth of galaxies and star formation. JWST will require near-IR imaging with high spatial resolution and sensitivity to achieve this greater depth. Background galaxies with a size comparable to the resolution of JWST will be measured at 20 .
The same near-IR sensitivity and resolution will also make JWST superior to those of ground-based facilities and HST for the study of dark matter structures on larger scales, e.g., 1–10 arcmin or 2–20 Mpc (co-moving) at z 3. These volumes measure the clustering of dark matter on cluster or even supercluster scales, and would extend the study of the mass function into the linear regime. The goal of these observations would be to verify the growth of structure between z 1000 (the CMB large-scale structure) and z 2.5, i.e., during the period that dark matter dominated the cosmological expansion of the universe prior to the beginning of dark energy dominance at z 1.

It's not all about the redshift, the paper also describes potentially useful observations in the IR-- planet formation, star formation, etc. And,of course, optical telescopes have a hard time resolving what's behind dust clouds-- ir telescopes can see beyond them

Re:yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41070659)

The same could be said about the Hubble project too: people there have an invested interest in it continuing. And over the last 20 some years, the capabilities of ground based observations have been improving, leaving fewer and fewer cases that Hubble has an advantage in.

Re:yeah (2, Insightful)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068907)

It's important science, but even if the telescope works without a hitch and everything goes according to plan, the Webb Space Telescope represents a real failure on the part of NASA administration. According to Wikipedia, the telescope was originally supposed to launch in 2007 for a cost of $500 million; then 2007-2008 for a cost of $1 billion, then 2009 for $1.8 billion, now it's 2018 and 8.7 billion. The Curiosity rover has also had major problems, being two years behind schedule and $1.5 billion over budget.

I support the work NASA does, and I think that we should support projects like the Webb telescope and Curiosity. But it's pretty clear that the current management at NASA is incompetent when we have this situation of projects continually coming in late and massively over budget. The guys in the blue shirts we saw working mission control are doing a great job, but their leadership is failing them. It seems to me that if we could figure out how to reform NASA, reward success and have accountability for failures, we might be able to save money and get more science done at the same time- although I'm not terribly optimistic about that.

Re:yeah (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41069271)

You mean it's hard to predict how long and how expensive it will be to do something literally *nobody has ever done*?

Well holy shit, you just blew my mind.

Also, how is leadership failing them? Leadership seems to be doing pretty well, they managed to secure additional funding and time for the engineers and projects that needed it. Leadership would be failing if those projects were canceled after years of work and billions of dollars. I suppose the only failure is that they didn't take the initial estimates, multiply them by 4, and then use those.

Re:yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41072301)

They shouldnt be underestimating their budgets. If they thought they were going to build that telescope for 500million they should be fired.

Re:yeah (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41073545)

They shouldnt be underestimating their budgets. If they thought they were going to build that telescope for 500million they should be fired.

You are making the very large assumption that budgets get approved at their actual cost. In reality, they get approved at their assumed or original budgeted cost, with the longstanding joke in business that projects like this will always end up costing 4x in the end. Stupid and absolutely ludicrous, but only mirrors the absurdity of the politics involved.

And knowing the beaurcracy of projects this large, I doubt anyone got fired. The fact that the project went from an original budget of 1 billion to over 8 billion without getting shitcanned at some point along the way should tell you that.

Where is that money being spent? (5, Insightful)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 2 years ago | (#41069305)

That money is being spent in the USA, it is going to our own citizens to advance our own science.

With your reasoning, just about EVERY SINGLE project this government has EVER undertaken:

- electrification
- interstate highway system
- moon shot
- internet
- big dig
- just about everyting NASA has done

would be considered a "failure" because ALL of them overran their original budgets.

If "budgetary concerns" are your ONLY criterion for success or failure, you're CLEARLY one of those "Harvard MBA Spreadsheet" wonks who thinks that all of life and reality can be boiled down into an excel spreadsheet.

Re:Where is that money being spent? (2)

Rob Riggs (6418) | more than 2 years ago | (#41069641)

That money is being spent in the USA, it is going to our own citizens to advance our own science.

With your reasoning, just about EVERY SINGLE project this government has EVER undertaken:

I'm sorry, but this is a very real failure. I'm a total space geek at heart, but the cost overruns completely change the cost/benefit analysis of the project. Sure, if there is no other research or project to spend the money on, your argument might make sense. But there are tons of these project that all compete for funding. The value we, as citizens and taxpayers, receive for that money is incredibly important. There are a ton of other very worthy projects that could have done more with that amount of money.

Hell, for that amount of money, how many New Horizons [wikipedia.org] type missions could we have paid for?

Re:Where is that money being spent? (2)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 2 years ago | (#41072535)

I'm sorry, but this is a very real failure

I'm sorry you don't know what the fuck you're talking about.

Re:Where is that money being spent? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41073665)

That money is being spent in the USA, it is going to our own citizens to advance our own science.

With your reasoning, just about EVERY SINGLE project this government has EVER undertaken:

I'm sorry, but this is a very real failure. I'm a total space geek at heart, but the cost overruns completely change the cost/benefit analysis of the project. Sure, if there is no other research or project to spend the money on, your argument might make sense. But there are tons of these project that all compete for funding. The value we, as citizens and taxpayers, receive for that money is incredibly important. There are a ton of other very worthy projects that could have done more with that amount of money.

Hell, for that amount of money, how many New Horizons [wikipedia.org] type missions could we have paid for?

Your Utopian business model, complete with real project justification, proper spending constraints, and sound ROI analysis sounds awesome!

Too bad I'm still laughing my ass off, because hardly any of that shit actually happens in the real world.

And careful when you use the words "for that amount of money", for there are plenty who would claim you "space geeks" are a complete waste of taxpayer money, and that the entire NASA budget could easily fund "other very worthy projects" not related to space exploration.

Re: budgets (5, Insightful)

neBelcnU (663059) | more than 2 years ago | (#41069613)

Ok, Accepting that flyingsquid's remark and mine will be moderated into Negativeland, I will feed his/her troll-ness just this once.

Budgets running "over": I agree that you have, using perfect 20/20 hindsight, identified a worrisome trend: rising NASA project costs over time. I will argue against this as a legitimate complaint on 2 fronts:

A) All government projects rise, at rates at least equal to NASAs. By the time the projects "end" they all appear wildly delayed, and hugely inflated. B1, B2, F22, F35, LCS, Stryker, M2 Bradley, M1 Abrams, F18 (which was the loser in the competition for the F16), NexRad, IRS software upgrades, the list is endless. You've chosen to reframe NASA's behavior as out-of-place, when creeping budgets and timelines are the norm. These "creeps" are in fact reviews, where congress revisits the project's justification and reconsiders continuance or abandonment.

B) Hindsight is unavoidable, but somewhat useless. All government projects are engaged in for the best reasons at the time. (Including pork: politics and perception are both, unhappily, reasons.) All of them are initially put up with gigantic dark-areas of knowledge. The proponents of the project have to name the best number they can with the available knowledge, then run with it. Each successive increase is a far harder battle than the initial start, and the fact that a project eventually flies means that the best congressional minds decided it was worth it at each of those increases.

My conclusion: You are offended by a pattern of behavior that is visible looking back, but invisible looking forward. I welcome your proposal to eliminate this problem, but to tote out the tried-and-true phrases like "accountability for failures" and "leadership is failing them" is to cloth Luddism in conservative gowns. I've attempted to make the case that while the system isn't elegant, it is your perception of it that is your problem. This inelegant system produces investments that it believes are worthy, using the best information available at the time, at each step along the way. That it follows a Drunkard's Walk is meaningless if it gets to the desired goal.

Re: budgets (1, Interesting)

thrich81 (1357561) | more than 2 years ago | (#41070931)

So the guys that are liars (or incompetent) and lo-ball their initial budget estimates to get the project started are rewarded with funding and the guys that are honest from the start and put big contingencies in their estimates for unknowns never get funded because they are always underbid. If the desired goal is to reward BS, dishonesty, and political pull over scientific merit it's working great.

Re: budgets (1)

Titan1080 (1328519) | more than 2 years ago | (#41071465)

welcome to the american political system. or better yet, welcome to general modern human society/behavior.

Re: budgets (2)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 2 years ago | (#41073749)

Ok, Accepting that flyingsquid's remark and mine will be moderated into Negativeland, I will feed his/her troll-ness just this once.

I'd like to think that he's not trolling and is instead expressing a valid concern. It's anathema in terms of how I think the U.S. should shift its priorities post-Global War on Terrorism, but it's still valid. We want the U.S. government to spend money wisely, so scrutinizing and eliminating waste is good ... but not at the cost of killing a program that's going to be crucial for America's journey into the 22nd century.

Re: budgets (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 2 years ago | (#41074431)

how I think the U.S. should shift its priorities post-Global War on Terrorism

"post"? Why do you think the GWOT will ever end?

Re: budgets (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 2 years ago | (#41074371)

F18 (which was the loser in the competition for the F16

It does amuse me that the US defense bidding process produces all these failed/shelved designs for the Second-Bestest Nucular Bombar Ever. What happens to them? Are there defense contractors with big grudges, deep pockets and a back garage full of prototype stealth city obliterators? What happens if one of these guys decide they're tired of always being America's Second Runner-Up / Miss Congeniality 1988 in the Mass Civilian Murder, Mayhem and Catwalk/Gantry Jumpsuit Model categories... but never #1?

There's got to be a good movie in there somewhere.

Re:yeah (5, Insightful)

Titan1080 (1328519) | more than 2 years ago | (#41071337)

We could build one of these EVERY MONTH, for what we've been spending on the useless waste in afghanistan. and that's been going for over a decade... The money that NASA 'wastes' is a PITTANCE to what gets truly wasted by the 'defense' department and the pentagon.

Re:yeah (4, Insightful)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 2 years ago | (#41073195)

The Pentagon, DOD, CIA and all the "other" defense related BS that the aging, paranoid "military-industrial complex" spending is classified, the dollar figures released are for public consumption only and are a TINY fraction of the true amount! The REAL amount spent, would dwarf (IMHO) the entire remainder of the federal budget!

If the USofA spent the same percentage of it's budget on all the above as China or Europe, not only would their be NO DEBT, the federal coffers would be busting at the seams with money for roads, bridges, waterworks, infrastructure, environmental clean up, etc, etc, etc.

BUT as the defense industry is so very generous to our whores in Washington, we can reliably expect to be at war for the foreseeable future!

Congress added billions by jerking NASA around... (2)

KonoWatakushi (910213) | more than 2 years ago | (#41072691)

NASA's (mis-)management aside, congress added an extra $2.2B to the cost by disregarding the review panel's findings and not funding the project in a timely manner. Read more about it here [scienceblogs.com] , courtesy of an earlier slashdot article: How the Webb Space Telescope Got So Expensive [slashdot.org] .

Re:Congress added billions by jerking NASA around. (2)

RalphTheWonderLlama (927434) | more than 2 years ago | (#41073901)

It always comes back to Congress. I think they are NASA's real problem. We should put Congress-people that aren't from NASA center/JPL/etc. states but nonetheless are enthusiastic about science, tech, space, and aero into the committees that decide their budget. Do those even exist?

Re:yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41073283)

If there was a management problem at NASA, I assure you we would not successfully be getting things into space. Projects like the Curiosity are MAJOR engineering problems that most of us can't even imagine.

Re:yeah (2)

downhole (831621) | more than 2 years ago | (#41073341)

What I think you're missing is that the standard bean-counter approach to budgeting and project management just doesn't apply here. Take a car company as the opposite - they make hundreds of thousands of everything. Because they're dealing with well-known technology and high production numbers, they can say with a great deal of confidence exactly how much it will cost to make the next one, or the next ten, or the next ten thousand. Neither of those apply to a lot of these technological projects that are so famous for cost overruns - they're only making one JWST, and all of the gear in it is cutting-edge technology that nobody has much real experience with, and some of which has to be invented for the purpose. You're never going to be able to make an accurate schedule or cost estimate for that.

The same applies to a lot of other stuff, like fighter jets. Each new generation is pushing the cutting edge of several different branches of technology, including aviation, low-observables, engine design, materials, etc. Problems nobody could have forseen are going to come up, and solutions will have to be found, and nobody will be able to predict how much it will cost or how long it will take ahead of time. Especially when you're only planning on making a few hundred of them, at most.

Re:yeah (2)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 2 years ago | (#41073653)

Why is it when the Defense Department has a cost overrun of billions of dollars, everyone says, "But we need this! It's important!" but no one ever tries to make the same case for the advancement of science?

We could have discovered the Higgs boson a decade sooner -- in the United States -- if we'd opted to take a chance on science and finish building the Superconducting Supercollider, but killing Earthlings was apparently more important, so Congress in its infinite wisdom shut that project down. Flash forward to today, where we're bemoaning the lack of young adults entering science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.

The James Webb telescope will likewise help inspire our next generation of scientists and engineers, but only if we see the thing through to completion. Or we can just continue to hand the reins of technological prowess to our compatriots in Europe and Asia and continue to slowly descend into irrelevance.

Re:yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41068021)

We will REALLY be able to see female chest hair after 1-day growth with that thing!

FTFY

Re:yeah (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068301)

We will REALLY be able to see boobies with that thing!

And then the scientists will find out that the green alien babes they were looking for aren't actually mammals at all and the jig will be up.

Tennis court (0, Offtopic)

Russ1642 (1087959) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067709)

Can I get that in the standard unit of area - the football field?

Re:Tennis court (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067731)

American (American Football), Canadian (Canada's variant thereof...), or European (soccer)?

Re:Tennis court (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41067765)

American (American Football), Canadian (Canada's variant thereof...), or European (soccer)?

Obviously an Unladen African Arena Football field.

Re:Tennis court (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067893)

European (soccer)?

Not the best choice of measurement, as they can vary dramatically [wikipedia.org] . Now a rugby pitch, that's a fixed size.

Re:Tennis court (1)

Antipater (2053064) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068639)

Now a rugby pitch, that's a fixed size.

Lies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rugby_pitch#Playing_field (note the "Not Exceeding" measurements in the picture.)

Re:Tennis court (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068739)

I curse you with a mild itch that disappears after a few minutes :P

Re:Tennis court (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41067749)

Can I get that in the standard unit of area - the football field?

What a standard football field or a hand-egg field? need to be more specific.

Re:Tennis court (0)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067767)

Is that an American Football field, an international Football (ie, Soccer) field, an Arena Football field, Rugby, Canadian Football, or some other variety?

Before you answer, remember, international units conversion problems have caused previous space missions to fail...

Re:Tennis court (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41067779)

This might help http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6006/5962984002_b26e5b4a44_o.jpg

Re:Tennis court (4, Funny)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067851)

Would also be nice to know how many libraries of congress per second the telescope will be able to send back to Earth

Re:Tennis court (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41073563)

LoC it from orbit, it is the only way to be sure!

A problem (-1, Offtopic)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067717)

These NASA "scientists" can't seem to get it right can they? A sad commentary on the state of our nation's education system after decades of decay under the influence of the Italian overlords. First of all, any fisisist knows that space is CURVED! So if you try to look at a curved thing with a curved mirroir, you will lose dimensionality and violate the laws of thermodytronics. Curved mirroirs are for FLAT objects, FLAT mirroirs are for CURVED obbjects, everybody (except Slashdort and NASAR, evidently) knows that!

Hopefully... (4, Funny)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067719)

...Perkin-Elmer didn't provide any consulting services, especially in the verification process...

Re:Hopefully... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41069821)

They're now part of the ISR Systems department at Goodrich, which was recently purchased by United Technologies.

And yes, they still bid and win NASA contracts.

Re:Hopefully... (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#41071859)

I once had a discussion with a director of engineering about being fired for screwing up a design (in jest; a hypothetical "I hope this does't fail" comment). He quickly came back with, "Oh, I wouldn't fire you. Far worse - I'd make you stay on and fix it."

Smart engineers who have made some rookie mistakes are probably some of the first people you want on a review team. When everything goes perfectly, you don't know how much of your design was genius and how much was luck.

Have they been properly collimated? (3, Insightful)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067729)

Please tell me they have been collimated properly and we aren't going to get another Hubble problem, this time at L2 with no hopes of a monocle to fix it.

Re:Have they been properly collimated? (4, Funny)

Russ1642 (1087959) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067759)

I hear they've installed a docking connector just in case.

Re:Have they been properly collimated? (4, Informative)

Russ1642 (1087959) | more than 2 years ago | (#41071207)

Thanks for the funny moderation but I was serious. They added a docking ring in 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JWST#Orbit [wikipedia.org]

Re:Have they been properly collimated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41068547)

Yes, but since the start of telescope manufacturing, time has moved forward in the universe. This means the lens needs recalibration or re-designed to see that far away start that just got farther now! :)

Re:Have they been properly collimated? (5, Informative)

martinux (1742570) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068987)

Collimation wasn't the issue, the mirror was incorrectly shaped due to a fault in the QA process where a tool used to measure the sphericity of the mirror called a null corrector was assumed to be set up to spec.

More details here for those who are interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubble_Space_Telescope#Origin_of_the_problem [wikipedia.org]

Collimation refers to the arrangement, or alignment, of the optical surfaces and lenses in relation to each other.

Re:Have they been properly collimated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41069295)

Please tell me they have been collimated properly and we aren't going to get another Hubble problem, this time at L2 with no hopes of a monocle to fix it.

JWST is IR and has more room for error in this regard than HST.

Re:Have they been properly collimated? (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41072973)

A cousin of mine with a degree in quality engineering [wikipedia.org] works for Northrop Grumman and had to go visit Ball a bunch in the last year to ensure that the mirror segments were to spec. So if the mirror doesn't work, I'm blaming her.

memories of Hubble (1)

metageek (466836) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067747)

hopefully they polished this one well enough...

Re:memories of Hubble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41067831)

hubble was polished fine. It warped when it got to zero g...

The new mirrors can be warped on the fly remotely.

The sad thing is this thing is nearly 10 years late. They just finished the mirrors? Those things should have been done in 2002 for their 2005 launch date (which was already late). This thing has turned into a huge overrun of budget. Sadly making it harder to do things like it in the future.

Re:memories of Hubble (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067887)

that said they are doing something that is very hard to do.

Re:memories of Hubble (4, Informative)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067931)

The Allen Commission found that the null corrector used to test the mirror had a lens installed 1.3mm out of position. Citation The Hubble Space Telescope Optical Systems Failure Report [berkeley.edu] chapter 7.

The mirror was wrong when it left the factory.

Re:memories of Hubble (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 2 years ago | (#41072717)

It warped when it got to zero g...

LOL. No, it was figured wrong, period.

Those things should have been done in 2002 for their 2005 launch date (which was already late). This thing has turned into a huge overrun of budget.

Compared to any military project, I am sure NASA's budget overruns are miniscule. It's too bad military projects aren't subject to this kind of scrutiny. I'm sure the taxpayer would save billions.

Re:memories of Hubble (5, Funny)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068623)

The Hubble mirror was the most precisely and uniformly shaped mirror ever made up to that time. They just happened to make it precisely to an incorrect shape.

Boulder Daily Camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41067769)

The Boulder Daily Camera has a longer story and more pictures.

http://www.dailycamera.com/news/boulder/ci_21323457/after-decade-boulders-ball-aerospace-readies-ship-telescope

Re:Boulder Daily Camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41068425)

The Boulder Daily Camera has a longer story and more pictures.

http://www.dailycamera.com/news/boulder/ci_21323457/after-decade-boulders-ball-aerospace-readies-ship-telescope

Daily camera? Well a space telescope is one hell of a camera!

The beginning of time (2)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067773)

... see back to the beginning of time

so they finally see the hand of the Maker:

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Re:The beginning of time (2)

Metabolife (961249) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067977)

One hand will be in the pocket, the other one will be holding a cigarette.

First to see the epoch becomes God (1)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 2 years ago | (#41072137)

Quantum mechanics shows that conscious participation can help define the universe (Are things a wave or a particle? Matters if you're looking). John Wheeler [wikipedia.org] took this further and called it the Participatory Anthropic Principle. (Not as catchy as his other terms he came up with like black hole or wormhole). So whomever sees epoch first may become the Maker. A fun little read on the idea is 2002 discover mag article [discovermagazine.com]

Re:The beginning of time (1)

alphred (1920232) | more than 2 years ago | (#41073229)

Hello Sweetie!

Need more of these stories (2)

Flipstylee (1932884) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067849)

Stuff like this is the reason i frequent Slashdot.

Beryllium? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067905)

When they add in the new power supply, will it use berryllium spheres?

One shot at getting it right. (4, Informative)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067911)

During Hubble's deployment a solar panel failed to fully unfold. An astronaut needed to manually extend the panel or Hubble would not have the power to operate. Hubble famously needed a "set of glasses" to correct for a deformation in it's mirror. This was accomplished with a space shuttle mission. In the years that followed Hubble needed gyroscopes replaced and has received upgrade packages to extend it's capabilities.

Webb will be four times further away from Earth than the distance between the Earth and Moon. That will make any effort to repair it more risky than an Apollo moon mission. Webb was almost cancelled for budget reasons. It's unlikely a rescue mission would be conducted if something were to go wrong.

I can't wait to see what a telescope more powerful than Hubble can do. I hope everything goes according to plan.

Re:One shot at getting it right. (3, Insightful)

martinux (1742570) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068163)

NASA has learned a lot from all of their work up until now. Consider the spectacular success in getting Curiosity onto Mars - a remarkably complex and audacious plan.

Testing methods, materials and technology has come a long way; it's not a guarantee that everything will go without a hitch but I'm optimisitic.

Re:One shot at getting it right. (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 2 years ago | (#41069825)

Thousands of satellites have been launched on unmanned rockets and have done fine without human intervention.

Re:One shot at getting it right. (1)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#41070413)

I'm aware, but most of them extend a dish or make a minimal configuration change once in orbit. Few of them are folded like complex origami into a rocket nose.

I want this to work, I'm just expressing a concern.

Re:One shot at getting it right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41070689)

In addition to the mirror problems and solar panel non-deployment, they also had:

* Failed to properly shield the electronics against the radiation in orbit
* Installed solar panels that would 'wobble' (ie, vibrate at low freq) when it changed temperature going from sunlight-no sunlight and back again
* the tracking system was unreliable
* terrible ringing problems when it had a system emergency shutdown and the front door slammed shut

Re:One shot at getting it right. (1)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 2 years ago | (#41073835)

Webb will be four times further away from Earth than the distance between the Earth and Moon. That will make any effort to repair it more risky than an Apollo moon mission. Webb was almost cancelled for budget reasons. It's unlikely a rescue mission would be conducted if something were to go wrong.

I think robotics has advanced to the point where we could engineer and send up an unmanned repair vehicle if we had to. Hopefully, we won't have to. :)

Fahrenheit, really? (5, Insightful)

RenHoek (101570) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067935)

Guys, really? Fahrenheit? In a science article? On an international website?

I don't even advocate the usage of Celcius in this case, so why not use 33 degrees Kelvin? This at least give us _some_ idea of how close to absolute zero we are. Otherwise, why not use 'near absolute zero' and leave out the numbers completely?

</getoffmylawn>

Fahrenheit and Tennis Courts, Yes (2)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068053)

So Fahrenheit is right out but tennis courts are a valid area unit?

Jeez, somebody whizzed on the electric fence [youtube.com] last night.

Re:Fahrenheit, really? (4, Insightful)

blueturffan (867705) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068123)

Guys, really? Fahrenheit? In a science article? On an international website?

I don't even advocate the usage of Celcius in this case, so why not use 33 degrees Kelvin? This at least give us _some_ idea of how close to absolute zero we are. Otherwise, why not use 'near absolute zero' and leave out the numbers completely?

</getoffmylawn>

degrees Kelvin you say? In a comment to a science article?

No, it really IS kelvin. No degrees. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41073103)

It's a bit like using "Centigrade".

Re:Minus, really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41068243)

If you're going to complain, complain about the use of "minus" as a unary operator.

It's *negative*. Minus is subtraction.
Pet Peeve!

At least with F and C they're accurate if unconventional.
(Aside: What? no Rankine love?)

Re:Fahrenheit, really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41068619)

Guys, really? Fahrenheit? ... On an international website?

It's not an international website. It's an American website. The fact that you can access it from outside the US is great and all, and I welcome everyone to this community warmly. However, I welcome everyone to the community warmly in the very same way that the grocery store down my street welcomes foreign visitors. They'll sell you anything you want, treat you the same as they treat all their American customers, but don't go and get all indignant that they have no employees who speak Finnish. This website caters to Americans, it says so on the FAQ. They just don't turn away people who aren't Americans.

In a science article? ... I don't even advocate the usage of Celcius in this case, so why not use 33 degrees Kelvin?

I agree with that.

Re:Fahrenheit, really? (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#41069303)

On an international website?

From an old slashdot FAQ.

Slashdot is U.S.-centric. We readily admit this, and really don't see it as a problem. Slashdot is run by Americans, after all, and the vast majority of our readership is in the U.S. We're certainly not opposed to doing more international stories, but we don't have any formal plans for making that happen. All we can really tell you is that if you're outside the U.S. and you have news, submit it, and if it looks interesting, we'll post it.

Re:Fahrenheit, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41069475)

What's "international" about it? It's a US-based site with US-based staff.

Also the main nav-bar includes Entertainment and Shop; this is a /mainstream/ science site. Kelvin is too exotic to use without explanation for the audience. Like "tennis court" they wanted something that would make sense to the curious who don't have a sci degree. (Yet.)

While you're there, note Shop has all prices in dollars, without even bothering to mention it's USD. This is definitely not an "international" website. You've made a strawman in your eagerness to appear smart, buffed by flat-out ignoring that they did include Celsius alongside the Fahrenheit.

I guess your lawn remark was more of that. I know I enjoyed the Apollo program in real-time, and can assure the young ones here we /didn't/ use Kelvin when I was a kid. Nor would it have made a damn bit of sense to me had they used it in the Apollo coverage.

Re:Fahrenheit, really? (1)

Yoda222 (943886) | more than 2 years ago | (#41073487)

I don't think Kelvin is too exotic to be used on slashdot. Don't you think that Kelvin is far more common than "berrilium" or "L2" ?

Re:Fahrenheit, really? (1)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 2 years ago | (#41069785)

Guys, really? Fahrenheit? In a science article? On an international website?

I don't even advocate the usage of Celcius in this case, so why not use 33 degrees Kelvin?

For one thing, there's no such thing as a "degree Kelvin." Look it up.

the name still annoys me (3, Funny)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41067961)

Wish it had been named after an astronomer, like the Hubble [wikipedia.org] was, not a NASA administrator.

Re:the name still annoys me (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068657)

You say administrator like it's a dirty word. Webb made Apollo happen, up to and including throwing himself to the wolves after Apollo 1. He wasn't the bean counting ass covering naysaying Milquetoast that you'd expect in that position today.

Re:the name still annoys me (2)

BobNET (119675) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068763)

I just assumed it was named after the guy who wrote MacArthur Park.

Cool! All we need now is (2)

mj1856 (589031) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068023)

a solid xenon-halogen laser and a ginormous popcorn ball!

Re:Cool! All we need now is (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#41071799)

Don't forget to clean your optics, first.

What about maintanance of Hubble? (2)

sageres (561626) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068177)

It is very unfortunate that JWST means the end if Hubble. JWST provides only infrared spectrum (and we already have seperate telescopes that do infraded and x-ray), while Hubble does ultraviolet and optical. Servicing Mission 4 was under the thread of being canceled, however even though it is completed, all the finances are now invested into JWST, so SM4 was the last mission to the Hubble.

only space shuttle can maintain Hubble (2)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068373)

And there are no more. Fortunately they squeezed in one last servicing mission among the Columbia disaster protocols and ISS completion. That may keep Hubble going until 2020. Probably will still be a gap until Webb is operational. Gyro failures are the most likely cause of Hubble end.

Re:only space shuttle can maintain Hubble (1)

M1FCJ (586251) | more than 2 years ago | (#41071777)

Why bother when it is not necessary. Ground-based scopes can do visual band perfectly fine. IR and UV have to be outside the atmosphere apart from some very narrow windows. Saying that, JWST costs too much and not worth it. We would have got a lot more science out of a couple of smaller IR scopes and loads of ground based stuff where it's multiple magnitudes of order cheaper and they're shutting left and right because there's no money left.

Re:What about maintanance of Hubble? (4, Informative)

ogre7299 (229737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41069133)

While there have been other telescopes that observed in the infrared, JWST will have a mirror 6x larger than the prevous space-based telescopes that operate or have operated at the same wavelengths (0.8 to 24 microns). This means that JWST will have a factor of 6 better resolution than previous telescopes and be incredibly more sensitive due to the larger collecting area. Ground-based telescopes cannot compete with JWST because of the sky brightness in the infrared making sensitive observations very time consuming. The science drivers of JWST are primarily the high-redshift universe, that is galaxies that were formed shortly after the big bang. This is something Hubble cannot do since it is not infrared optimized (the telescope is quite warm compare to JWST's operating temperature) and has too small of an aperture for the resolution needed.

The lack of future Hubble servicing has a lot to do with the retirement of the Space Shuttles, the only platform that can be used to service HST. Hubble will be kept going as long as possible since it is still doing outstanding science. In the 2020s it is hoped to launch an 8m class optical-uv telescope to truly replace Hubble.

Tools Calibrated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41068183)

OK, we verified that all of our measurement tools are calibrated before doing this - right?

NASA got two spare Keyhole mirrors (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068391)

This could be the seed of future Hubble telescope. It would still cost a lot to build a telescope around them and launch them.

Will it need glasses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41068715)

Unlike the Hubble, I bet they are going to test it this time!

Say (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#41068865)

He looked out the porthole at the new telescope whose gathering disc dwarfed his ship.

"That's one big-ass mirror!", Tom Swift reflected.

Meteorites? (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#41069153)

What are the chances of a mirror getting hit by a micro (or not so micro) meteorite out there? Pretty slim, obviously, or they wouldn't bother, but seeing that animation makes it look pretty unprotected.

I have a great idea! (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 2 years ago | (#41069365)

Let's pretend that the people who write budgets are the only people on this planet with any common sense.

Then we can judge everything based on whether it overran its budget, without consideration of any other criteria.

Sounds strange? Read the comments above!

Calibration (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#41069799)

I hope they calibrated the testing equipment.

I seem to remember that the Hubble mirror passed all the tests, but that the test equipment wasn't calibrated correctly.

Grammar Nazi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41072249)

The whole comprises its parts. The parts compose the whole.
Not. That. Hard.

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