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The Hubble Lives On

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the still-flying dept.

132

tanman writes "CNN reports that NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has agreed to send astronauts on one final mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. No date was reported for the mission, other than before the shuttle fleet is retired. From the article, 'A rehab mission would keep Hubble working until about 2013. It would add two new camera instruments, upgrade aging batteries and stabilizing equipment, add new guidance sensors and repair a light-separating spectrograph. Without a servicing mission, Hubble will likely deteriorate in 2009 or 2010.'"

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132 comments

Yay! The hubble lives! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16658777)

Woo! The Hubble Lives!

Good choice (1)

mnmn (145599) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658809)

With USA abandoning the Hubble and ISS, theres not much to be done in space. The Hubble at least should stay and take pictures, if nothing else. The pictures will motivate politicians and voters to pay for bigger projects.

Re:Good choice (1)

tha_mink (518151) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659509)

"With USA abandoning the Hubble and ISS, theres not much to be done in space."

What are you talking about? What about the James Webb Telescope. [nasa.gov] We ought to be able to see the start of the universe with that sucker.

Re:Good choice (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659867)

The JWST is significantly different from the HST, in that the former is purely an infrared telescope. It will not be serviceable or upgradable, either, as its orbit will be at the L2 Lagrange point -- nearly a million miles from Earth.

Re:Good choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16659943)

make for some good wallpaper for my PC too

Re:Good choice (1)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 7 years ago | (#16660653)

The pictures will motivate politicians and voters to pay for bigger projects.
Today Senator Pork Barrel said
All that money for a few lousy pictures! I don't care how pretty they are, we need to cut back on federal expenditure to fund the war on terror.

Re:Good choice (1)

Marty200 (170963) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662363)

Today Senator Pork Barrel said
All that money for a few lousy pictures! I don't care how pretty they are, we need to cut back on federal expenditure to fund the war on terror.


So basicly he's saying, who cares about a better understanding of the universe, let shoot some people!

MG

A good first step... (1)

jmagar.com (67146) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658849)

This is a good first step, but is it too late? Don't they have a new deep space telescope on the books already?

I'm sure the smart folks at NASA know what they are doing, and they actually know what programs are scheduled... If they need to fix Hubble to bridge the gap then let us get it done.

Re:A good first step... (1)

x3nos (773066) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658925)

I believe its scheduled for 2013 - JWST [wikipedia.org] . However it only does infrared imaging, whereas Hubble covers the visible spectrum.

Re:A good first step... (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659821)

JWST [wikipedia.org]. However it only does infrared imaging, whereas Hubble covers the visible spectrum.


"Only" does infrared? Actually, there is more information to be gathered in the infrared than there is in the visible. Developments in earth-based telescopes mean that they are catching up on Hubble, though Hubble still has some unique capabilities. But because the atmosphere absorbs IR, they are blind in that range. And there is just as much bandwidth and just as much interesting information out there in the IR. Probably more, because you can see things that are cooler and hence at an earlier stage in their development. Most of the pretty pictures which we see and enjoy so much are in false colour anyway.

Re:A good first step... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659933)

Actually, there is more information to be gathered in the infrared than there is in the visible.

That may be, but there is information to be gathered in the visible that cannot be gathered in the infrared. We need both, and more besides.

Re:A good first step... (1)

JATMON (995758) | more than 7 years ago | (#16660725)

This is from the http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov] :
"JWST's instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range."

Re:A good first step... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661067)

IIRC the JWST has very poor visible light capability. AFAIK only the FGS-TF [stsci.edu] imaging unit can even support visible light, and it is intended to pull in only narrow frequency bands at a time. The other three imaging units are all infrared (mid and near.) This unit is also used for attitude guidance.

Re:A good first step... (1)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658927)

This is a good first step, but is it too late? Don't they have a new deep space telescope on the books already?
James Webb Space Telescope [nasa.gov] , scheduled for launch in 2013, if everything goes as planned. It won't.

Re:A good first step... (2, Informative)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659015)

You, sir, have more faith in NASA's bureaucracy than I do. Having had to battle their system and watched one bone-headed decision after another, I salute your optimism but fear that it is misplaced.

There is a new telescope in the works, but it's not due to launch until 2013. (This is the James Webb Space Telescope [nasa.gov] .) It does not duplicate what HST does since it will primarily be an infrared telescope.

Re:A good first step... (1)

tloh (451585) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659369)

Having had to battle their system and watched one bone-headed decision after another.

Please enlighten us. Not a troll or flame bait. Respectfully, I'm genuinely curious.

"five year gap" (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659495)

There would be a five year gap between the projected death of Hubble and the operation of the the New Space Telescope. And we know how Murphey's law complicates the situation.

Re:A good first step... (2, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659561)

This is a good first step, but is it too late? Don't they have a new deep space telescope on the books already?

Yes, but it isn't exactly a replacement for Hubble, it's newer and better tech but also designed for different uses.

I had heard previously that once the gyros were repaired and it had its orbit boosted that Hubble would last until 2020. It would be fantastic to have both HST and JWST operating at the same time. The article says only 2013 (when JWST is theoretically going to be launched), which makes me wonder if they're just sandbagging or if this mission they are planning doesn't include enough repairs to make it last that long. I notice that the article doesn't mention changing Hubble's orbit, so maybe that was scrapped from the mission.

If they need to fix Hubble to bridge the gap then let us get it done.

The correct phrasing is: "Git 'er done!"

Re:A good first step... (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659929)

The gyros have always been the major weak point of the Hubble, and IIRC, they have been replaced on every mission. I would be astonished if the new group lasted much past 2013.

Hooray! (2, Informative)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658867)

I am very happy that they've decided to launch one final Hubble servicing mission. This will allow the HST to operate until the James Webb Space Telescope is launched in 2013.

Re:Hooray! (1)

bibi-pov (819943) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659547)

Could someone enlighten me, and explain why parent was modded funny ? An informative mod seems more appropriate to me...

Re:Hooray! (1)

vondo (303621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16660655)

Just a guess. None of the astronomers I talk to actually believe JWST will launch in 2013 if ever. I believe it is on the "schedule" but the funding allocated to it is nowhere near enough to build and launch it in that timeframe.

Re:Hooray! (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662033)

I am very happy that they've decided to launch one final Hubble servicing mission. This will allow the HST to operate until the James Webb Space Telescope is launched in 2013.

Hubble could fail tommorow without causing a gap between now and the launch of the JWST - because the JWST is a different instrument, it is not a replacement for Hubble.

The mission time is in there ... (1)

Tranvisor (250175) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658889)

From the article:

"The shuttle mission will likely be in early 2008."

Now that's not exactly a launch date but I would say it is better then "No date was reported for the mission, other than before the shuttle fleet is retired."

One final mission (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16658911)

CNN reports that NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has agreed to send astronauts on one final mission
Their sacrifice will be appreciated.

Service Lifetimes... (3, Funny)

steve-o-yeah (984498) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658923)

Support for Hubble SP1 has expired. Please upgrade to Hubble SP2.

Re:Service Lifetimes... (1)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#16660897)

Thank you for choosing to download Hubble SP2. Before we can continue, Hubble Genuine Advantage needs to confirm that your copy of Hubble SP1 is a valid one. Do you wish to continue?

Yes No Cancel

Worth Every Cent (1)

HaloZero (610207) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658931)

Awesome. I grew up in love with the idea of the Hubble. A remote optical platform from which to shoot insanely high-quality and far-reaching deep space photos is a powerful tool we should not let to waste.

The willingness to keep the Hubble alive in the midst of so much strife in the world today has made me feel just a little bit better about today.

Re:Worth Every Cent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16659763)

The willingness to keep the Hubble alive in the midst of so much strife in the world today has made me feel just a little bit better about today.

I agree with you, but it's funny how some of the most tenacious opposition to the funding a national space program is founded on that same recognition of all the strife in the world. It's like some people aren't willing to continue doing good things just because there's still bad things happening at the same time.

Re-entry (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16658943)

A rehab mission would keep Hubble working until about 2013. It would add two new camera instruments, upgrade aging batteries and stabilizing equipment

Part of the challenge is ensuring that the telescope will burn up on re-entry at the end of its working life. This will be solved by sole-sourcing the battery upgrade from Sony.

Backup for the shuttle (2, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658947)

Unlike the remaining 14 shuttle flights needed to finish space station construction, astronauts going to Hubble wouldn't have a refuge in the event of a catastrophic problem like the one that doomed Columbia. NASA would have another shuttle on the launch pad, ready to make an emergency rescue trip in case of trouble.
Are they doing this because they're afraid of risking the shuttle or is NASA afraid of risking the astronauts?

Manned spaceflight would never have gotten off the ground if NASA had exhibited such risk averse behavior almost 50 years ago.

Re:Backup for the shuttle (1)

Boman (899587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659039)

They are concerned about losing the crew.

They have to be more risk-averse these days because the shuttle hardware is way more fragile and complicated than Apollo-program-era hardware.

Re:Backup for the shuttle (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661131)

They have to be more risk-averse these days because the shuttle hardware is way more fragile and complicated than Apollo-program-era hardware.

particularly due to the fact that the Apollo stuff was single-use-only the ablative heatshield was designed to work for one re-entry then get turfed, whereas the tiles in the shuttle need to withstand more re-entries, and is apparently difficult to tell when they need to be replaced.

this is likely the reason why NASA is opting for replaceable one-time-use heatshields on their next-gen CEV.

Re:Backup for the shuttle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16659191)

NASA displays such behavior due to political/public pressure and outcry when something goes wrong

Re:Backup for the shuttle (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659201)

Are they doing this because they're afraid of risking the shuttle or is NASA afraid of risking the astronauts?

Obviously the astronauts. They'd hate to lose another vehicle because it would probably end the shuttle program. However, the American people do not like 7 dead astronauts and neither does NASA. We would mourn astronauts more than the shuttle.

Manned spaceflight would never have gotten off the ground if NASA had exhibited such risk averse behavior almost 50 years ago.

This is probably a fair statement, but there is no need to take risks like that to accomplish the current goals in space. We don't accept 1950's technology or safety standards in construction, aviation, automobiles, or health care - I see no reason to accept it in space. You certainly could argue that our goals are not lofty enough.

You DO still see that risk-taking spirit, though. Spaceship One was pretty seat-of-the-pants.

Re:Backup for the shuttle (1)

mirio (225059) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661841)

You DO still see that risk-taking spirit, though. Spaceship One was pretty seat-of-the-pants.

Hardly. Why was it seat of the pants? Because they didn't spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on it?

I think if you researched it you would see that it was a fairly normal and very scientific undertaking. Burt Rutan is one of the greatest aeronautical minds of our time. I don't think he'll be truly appreciated until he's long gone.

Re:Backup for the shuttle (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662783)

I'm not denying the man's genius. However, the entire system was fairly spartan, and the backups were either basic or non-existent. That first shot up was basically an uncontrolled spin. NASA would never deliberately design a system with such a low safety margin. Note the word "deliberately" :) Personally, I admire the Rutan team's resourcefulness and giant brass balls.

Re:Backup for the shuttle (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659225)

On the other hand, 50 years ago, they could rely on simple and therefore more reliable systems.
The shuttle is just not the good choice, it was designed to be reused (and therefore be less expensive and more available) and it ended up being overpriced and dangerous.
This reminds me of the Spirit of St Louis. Every other plane used to try to cross the atlantic ocean had three engines but in the end couln't fly with only two of them because of the weight of the gas, what was supposed to be an advantage can be your biggest drawback.

Re:Backup for the shuttle (1)

JATMON (995758) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661121)

On the other hand, 50 years ago, they could rely on simple and therefore more reliable systems. The shuttle is just not the good choice, it was designed to be reused (and therefore be less expensive and more available) and it ended up being overpriced and dangerous.

I would not call the older systems more reliable. The Apollo had 17 missions with one failure that killed 3 astronauts and almost lost 3 more on another mission (Apollo 13). That makes it 1 in 17 failure rate. The shuttle has had 2 failures that killed 14 in 114 missions which makes it a 1 in 57 failure rate.

Change of atmosphere (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659645)

50 years ago we were fighting for dominance over the russians. Now we are just exploring space. Human lives can be lost in the fight for dominance over another country (see: war) but for the peaceful pursuit of space? Politicians and the general public say no.

Re:Change of atmosphere (1)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 7 years ago | (#16660519)

Human lives can be lost over just about anything a person deems is worth risking it for. People can lose their lives camping, skiing, driving to work in the morning, eating (see: Heimlich manuever. see also: obesity), or by just plain growing old. People can lose their lives helping other people (firefighters, police). People can lose their lives exploring mountains, caves, or the Great Barrier Reef (RIP Steve Irwin). People can sure as heck lose their lives exploring space. Death is a part of life. It's foolish to flaunt it, but it is equally foolish to waste your life being terrified of any little chance of death.

What politicians and the general public should not accept is if NASA were to lie to their employees about the risks of what they do. Frankly, I don't think it's possible to convince well-educated engineers, scientists, and pilots working in a field where several percent of their colleagues have died on the job that there are not significant risks to their job.

Re:Change of atmosphere (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661181)

What politicians and the general public should not accept is if NASA were to lie to their employees about the risks of what they do. Frankly, I don't think it's possible to convince well-educated engineers, scientists, and pilots working in a field where several percent of their colleagues have died on the job that there are not significant risks to their job.

Agree. I have several friends in NASA and there is no misconception of the dangers involved. But the motivations from the 60's are not there anymore, like I said, so more precautions are made.

And a nitpick, the examples you cited are personal choices, mostly hobbies. Spaceflight (NASA) is a government agency. Now the astronauts are volunteers (a personal choice) but the endeavor is sanctioned and those politicians have to vote each year on the budget to keep spaceflight alive. That is the succinct difference here.

Due dilligence (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659791)

Are they doing this because they're afraid of risking the shuttle or is NASA afraid of risking the astronauts?

The astronauts. The reason they have the backup shuttle ready to go is so that in the event that the shuttle servicing Hubble undergoes irreparable damage during the mission and would not be able to safetly re-enter the atmosphere, the other shuttle can be launched to pick up its crew.

At which point the original shuttle would most likely be lost. The astronauts would be safe, though, which is the point.

Manned spaceflight would never have gotten off the ground if NASA had exhibited such risk averse behavior almost 50 years ago.

From TFA:
"I believe the risks are worth the reward of going into space for just about any mission, in particular the Hubble mission," said astronaut Jim Newman, who was on the last space shuttle mission to Hubble in 2002.


There's nothing wrong or overly "risk averse" to having a backup plan to rescue astronauts in case something goes wrong. Knowing and understanding risks and having plans to account for them is a good thing, and I think the astronauts appreciate it despite, as you can see from the quote, still having the explorer's attitude that made the space programe great in the 50's and 60's.

Plus they do have to consider the politics -- space exploration is always a favorite target for those seeking to cut budgets, and is seen as unnecessary by a large number of people. Losing another shuttle crew, aside from being a disaster worth avoiding, would be just the impetus needed for Congresscritters to scrap not just Shuttle but manned exploration. So they need to be extra dilligent in avoiding failures. I think having a backup shuttle to launch in case of an emergency is a perfect way to mitigate risk, both physical and political.

I would only be dissapointed in how risk averse NASA had become if they had decided against a Hubble mission on the basis of it being too risky.

Re:Backup for the shuttle (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661217)

Manned spaceflight would never have gotten off the ground if NASA had exhibited such risk averse behavior almost 50 years ago.

Apollo did have such risk-averse behavior. The mission could be aborted at almost any point without losing the astronauts. The only point in the whole mission where a single engine failure was fatal were the few seconds just before landing on the moon.

Re:Backup for the shuttle (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662359)

It's because male testosterone levels have dropped on average. We're too politically correct and soft these days. It's the continued "pussification" (Thanks to George Carlin). The "mans man" is gone.

Good! (3, Insightful)

GreggBz (777373) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659029)

The cost of a shuttle mission, from Wikipedia. [wikipedia.org]
is between $60M and $1.5B.. let the debate ensue. Not to be rude, but I'm ignoring the slight potential for human loss.
So many more people die in Iraq or Alaskan Crab Fishing or.. well.. you get the point.
I'm sure there will be other missions and shuttle maintenance and general program costs in 2007 whether we fix the Hubble or not. So, it's logical to factor the cost of this mission kind of inversely, thinking rather, how much will we save if we do not repair the Hubble? Probably not a whole $1.3B estimated one way in the link above, much less.

Regardless of how you intemperate the numbers, I think this is a good idea because:

The Hubble works, and we have experience servicing and fixing it, so it's much more likely that all of this will go smoothly.
We can get this done soon, whereas development of a another new telescope will undoubtedly take many times longer.
The Hubble is very meaningful. It's still returning good science and inspirational pictures.
It's functioning keeps a quite few scientists employed, and that's a good thing.
It's good press. NASA needs to flourish. I think the "new NASA" is just starting to hit it's stride, despite an
otherwise depressed national consciousness. We've had lots of enormously meaningful and successful unmanned missions lately, so yay NASA.

Re:Good! (1)

the_bikeman (530428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659173)

I don't get it. I'm a huge fan of the Hubble, but how does a $60M to $1.5B mission justify a mere 3 more years of life for the telescope?

Re:Good! (1)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659243)

The always underestimate life expectancies. I think what they really mean is "it'll be good for three years before X breaks where X is, eh, pretty much anything that requires a servicing mission".

-l

Re:Good! (1)

wximagery95 (993253) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659695)

In my opinion, the mission is a good idea. Think of repairing/maintaining Hubble as an insurance policy. Rocketry and blasting things into space isn't easy as mishaps do occur and quite frequently. Satellites, Mars rovers, and other things blow up upon liftoff or fail to reach their intended orbits. The chance remains that when the new orbital telescope is ready for launch/deployment, something could go wrong (weren't the mirrors dorked up on Hubble when it first deployed?). With a working Hubble up there, at least there would be one orbital platform we know works in the event something happens to the new one due to launch some years in the future.

Then once the new one is up and running, we let Hubble go.

Re:Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16659851)

WHY does everyone think it's so necessary to have an orbiting telescope operating at all times? You know, we have more immediate worries than taking expensive pictures.

Re:Good! (1)

wximagery95 (993253) | more than 7 years ago | (#16660273)

I'm not sure "everyone" thinks this is necessary. But enough apparently do think it's important, including myself. What do you think NASA should be spending their money on that is so much more important?

Re:Good! (1)

chaoticgeek (874438) | more than 7 years ago | (#16663441)

I think it would be nice if they could get some engines on it to give it one last good by and send it off into space to take pictures as it flies along... But that is me

Re:Good! (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659931)

The cost of a shuttle mission, from Wikipedia. [wikipedia.org] is between $60M and $1.5B.

Let's just outsource it to India or China. No wonder we haven't been getting anywhere. What's really sad is that the US could fund a global version of NASA and have 4 groups with 4 Billion a Russian, Chinese, Indian, and US group and they'd get the most bang for their bucks from the others. Maybe that would be an idea for obtaining a voting blocks in those countries, by sponsoring a man power intensive space program in each country for only a few billion a year. When it concerns getting our species space bound, we really need to think globally and not just nationally anyway.

Re:Good! (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661965)

Well, pretend we spent all the money on a new Hubble, not a James Webb IR satellite. Using lessons learned and leveraging new understandings of material science, we could get a super-Hubble. Of course, it'll take longer, but imagine a space telescope with a main lens that actually works!

Re:Good! (1)

bonius_rex (170357) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662717)

The Hubble is very meaningful. It's still returning good science and inspirational pictures.

This is not a small point, either. We're coming up on 10 years since the loss of Professor Sagan [wikipedia.org] , and in all that time, nobody (to my knowledge) has really stepped forward to fill his shoes wrt popularizing science.

The Hubble pictures are pretty much the only good advertising science gets. The Mars rovers are cool and everything, but nothing makes you stand back, slack-jawed, and drooling on the floor like the Eagle Nebula [wikipedia.org] , when you learn that those 'fingers' are light-years in length.

The Hubble is a marketing / recruiting tool as much as a scientific instrument.

Who would have thought that (2, Interesting)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659059)

the Charismatic Megafauna problem would affect NASA?

Since Hubble's replacement is already under construction [nasa.gov] , and since ground based scopes like Keck [keckobservatory.org] exceed Hubble's capabilities, what is the benefit of dropping hundreds of millions of dollars repairing it?

Re:Who would have thought that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16659189)

A. Publicity

B. To give the manned space program something to do.

If it's about manned missions (1)

porkchop_d_clown (39923) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659313)

then strap a scope onto the ISS.

Re:If it's about manned missions (1)

Jerry Smith (806480) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661971)

then strap a scope onto the ISS.
"(ISS) The space station is located in orbit around the Earth at an altitude of approximately 360 km (220 miles), a type of orbit usually termed low Earth orbit" versus "(Hubbles) Orbit height 600 km (325 nautical miles)" versus "(JWST) Orbit height 1.5×106 km from Earth (L2 Lagrangian point)".
Thank you Wikipedia!

Re:Who would have thought that (3, Informative)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659641)

Keck does exceed Hubble's capabilities for most practical and scientific purposes, and definitely with the dramatic improvement of adaptive optics technology some of the impetus for an optical space telescope is gone. That said, AO isn't perfect so there are still some uses for Hubble. AO can correct for a great deal of atmospheric turbulence, but Hubble still provides more stable images than current AO. Things like the deep field images still aren't terribly practical with a telescope such as Keck because sky brightness is less severe in space, particularly in certain parts of the spectrum (a factor of 600 at 1.5 microns). Also, certain bands are still severely attenuated by the atmosphere even at the altitude of the Keck observatory (and remember, most of the suitable land-based sites are already taken). Keck is a more sensitive telescope owing to its size, so it can detect fainter objects, but remember, we're comparing a two 10m telescopes to a telescope that's around 2.5m. If we put something even modestly larger than Hubble in space it would still be better than Keck for imaging.

Re:Who would have thought that (4, Insightful)

Explo (132216) | more than 7 years ago | (#16660005)

Regarding the replacement (well, close enough, even though the JWST is more focused on infrared observations); yes, it's hopefully going to be launched to the space around 2013 or so. However, Hubble won't last that long and it would be quite inconvenient to have a gap of several years between them without any comparable IR/visible light telescopes in space.

Regarding the ground-based telescopes, while adaptive optics and other fancy things allow them to outperform Hubble in some ways such as resolving power, there are still things they can't do. The ground-based telescopes are unable to observe anything for a significant part of the time because sun is happily shining on the sky and reflecting off the atmosphere. Likewise, no matter where you place the telescope under the atmosphere, weather will occasionally be an issue and atmosphere also tends to absorb some of the wavelenghts, although that's not a big issue on visible light. Additionally, atmospheric glow, no matter whether it's from reflected light pollution or natural [wikipedia.org] , makes observations of very dim targets more difficult on the ground.

Re:Who would have thought that (1)

TigerNut (718742) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661853)

Keck (both I and II) got damaged during last week's earthquake ( article [keckobservatory.org] ) and they're still working to get Keck II back to operational status. You never know when you will lose a valuable asset through a natural disaster... it would be ironic if the Keck system got wiped out shortly after the Hubble telescope was allowed to deteriorate beyond a reasonable threshold for maintenance or upgrading.

Re:Who would have thought that (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662183)

Since Hubble's replacement is already under construction, and since ground based scopes like Keck exceed Hubble's capabilities
  • There is no replacement for Hubble under construction. (I really wish this myth would go away.) The HST works in the Ultraviolet and Visible light bands with a tiny amount of functionality in the near Infrared. JWST has a tiny bit of capability in the Visible band, but is primarily designed to work in the Infrared band. JWST is a very different instrument
  • Ground based scopes like Keck do not exceed Hubble's capabilities in any useful manner. Hubble can see fainter objects, Hubble has no atmospheric distortion (Adaptive Optics reduce - but does not eliminate atmospheric distortion), Hubble can 'stare' at many targets longer, Hubble can see many more targets, and finally Hubble can see into bands that do not penetrate the atmosphere.
what is the benefit of dropping hundreds of millions of dollars repairing it?

The benefits become abundantly clear once you understand the issues.

Increase the CCD resolution of next telescope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16659131)

Instead of fixing Hibble maybe they should increase the resolution of the CCD's that are going up with the next mission. Cause those CCD's were designed in the late 90's (1 megapixel and 4 megapixel resolition).

Of course ideally we'd have the money for both.

Re:Increase the CCD resolution of next telescope (1)

shawnce (146129) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659247)

The JWST is going to live at a Lagrange point (L2) making it very difficult to attempt any servicing. So they have to use technologies that are tested and resilient to the harmful affects of the environment it will be living in.

Re:Increase the CCD resolution of next telescope (1)

AaronW (33736) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659373)

Some are less than that. The infra-red CCD is 64kilopixels, only 256x256 but has taken some gorgeous pictures. The number of pixels isn't everything, but more what you can do with those pixels and how sensitive they are. A coworker has an awesome picture on the wall that he took with the Hubble as a grad student that used about a week of time on the Hubble using the infrared camera to photograph the Orion nebula to see star formation.

Also, more pixels isn't always better. It's the quality of those pixels and the optics. Larger pixels tend to have less noise.

-Aaron

Mars Rover Mission (1)

Computer Guru (967408) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659139)

Then again, the Mars Rover duo was only intended to last 9 months - how long do you think Hubble will pull through?

I wonder if the "injured" Mars Rover will continue to "live" come spring on Mars - once the sun comes out and its solar panels activate.

Re:Mars Rover Mission (1)

baadger (764884) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659399)

Then again, the Mars Rover duo was only intended to last 9 months ...I think they pulled a Scotty on that one mate.

Re:Mars Rover Mission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16661593)

It ain't just a Scotty.

Scotty says, "I can fix it in 3 days," when he means 1.

NASA said "It will last 3 months," when they meant 6 to 12.

They've been running for over 30 months now. NASA has actually had to get a special budget approval from Congress to continue funding the mission team.

Re:Mars Rover Mission (2, Informative)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659465)

I wonder if the "injured" Mars Rover will continue to "live" come spring on Mars - once the sun comes out and its solar panels activate.
Yes. [planetary.org]

Re:Mars Rover Mission OffTopic (1)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 7 years ago | (#16660427)

From your Link :
A decision had been made [early on], because of what was an expected lifetime for these vehicles [90 days guaranteed] that we would represent the data that was received and plans created using 3 digits," Matijevic expounded. "Obviously, that's not going to work when we hit Sol 1K. Recognizing that we were going to survive that long meant coming up with a modification of all the scripts that we use routinely here on the ground to process the data and the plans in order to adapt them to a 4-digit sol number. That meant coming up with the mechanism by which we could do that, but also testing environment so that we could verify the tools could work and make sure that we caught all the problems that might arise because of this."

Jeebus, even rocket scientists are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. Remember this my developer compatriates lest we forget.

THREE MONTHS! (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659621)

The nominal operation life was 90 days. Its now over a thousand. NASA often decides to kill projects when the cost exceeds the benefits and not when the spacecraft stops working. The next rover lands May 2008, so that could be the cutoff.

As always it about cash (1)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659179)

Haven't you noticed that NASA funding has got little smaller during last few years? And shuttle problems were not the only factor to blame. Think Iraq. Do you have any idea how much that war costs? Somebody needs to pay, and the most vulnerable one will. Education, as always. Even when Bush is making big promises about conquring space and such, space will belong to Chinese. They're trying to catch West, and undoubtly will do it soon. And with their economy and, more important, political system it's more posibble.

States should just give Hubble to somebody who wants to pay for it and just go with their world war business.

Re:As always it about cash (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659551)

The Iraq war has absolutely nothing to do with reductions in NASA's budget. Pubic interest has. Nobody has really cared about NASA or what it does since the Moon landing.

Their budget has been dropping since the mid-70s - you might as well blame it on Vietnam.

NASA funding is rising (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662639)

Haven't you noticed that NASA funding has got little smaller during last few years?

No, I haven't. Looks like it has grown slightly since 2000. Thanks President Bush!

about conquring space and such, space will belong to Chinese.

Last I saw the Chinese were grovelling [iht.com] to collaborate with the US in manned space flight and were spurned.

Yes!!!! (1)

Snowtide (989191) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659221)

NASA is going to take some risks and put people in space again to work for the advancement of science. I understand space travel, even to orbit, is expensive and not without risk, but so do the men and women who work so hard to get into space and the crews who work to get them there.
Given budgets and political priorities after the shuttle fleet is retired their may not be another NASA manned vehicle for 20 or 25 years. I am glad to see every useful launch between now and the end of the shuttle program.

Launch on need? Scary stuff... (1)

Boman (899587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659229)

So, as risk mitigation in case the orbiter is damaged during this mission and cannot safely return to earth, NASA will have another shuttle ready to launch and go get the astronauts. Can you imagine transferring from one shuttle to another while in orbit? I'm guessing they would try an autonomous landing, now that they can deploy the landing gear remotely (http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/content/?cid=4582) .

some concerns.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659279)

FTA "....upgrade aging batteries..."

I certainly hope they are not sony or dell batteries!

Re:some concerns.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16659563)

...and repair a light-separating spectrograph.
That's all well and good for the light-separating spectrograph, but what about the colour-separating spirograph? That thing hasn't been touched since the 80's.

Hidden agenda? (1)

jdog-usa (957972) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659473)

I smell something fishy. My guess is that the batteries were manufactured by Sony and this is the real reason for the mission to repair. This will officially be the longest distance battery recall in history.

HST vs JWST (1)

photontaker (1020241) | more than 7 years ago | (#16659677)

There are a few important things about the servicing mission. First of all, almost all of the parts are just sitting in a warehouse at the moment waiting to fly. The whole question about the servicing mission isn't a question of money, it's a question of whether the mission can be done safely without losing another shuttle.

As an astronomer, I can tell you that HST can do things that no other telescope can do. The Keck telescopes are bigger (frankly, there are lots of telescopes bigger, including the new 11m SALT telescope) and bigger telescopes can do spectroscopy faster (in some cases). But there is no ground-based telescope which can come close to HST in image quality... the atmosphere is just too tricky of a thing to look through. Plus, adaptive optics systems on the ground are really only effective in the near-IR and you can just give up on doing any UV work from the ground.

The "Hubble replacement" JWST that's going to launch next decade isn't really a Hubble replacement either. It's highly optimized to do infrared work and will have basically no optical capabilities. It'll definitely produce pretty pictures, but they're not going to be pictures of things you could see with your eyes and I think that's going to make it less powerful to the public.

Basically, if this servicing mission weren't to go forward, it would mean a pause in some of the most ground-breaking astronomical research for 5-10 years.

Re:HST vs JWST (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16660667)

please mod parent up.

Re:HST vs JWST (1)

Digicrat (973598) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661115)

Parent said it perfectly.

To be precise, the replacement parts for Hubble have been sitting in the giant clean room at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland for several years, all tested, packed, and ready to go.

JWST will be an excellent tool, however it is not, as the parent said, a replacement for Hubble. It serves a different role, focusing on IR images, which while arguably of greater scientific value, does not provide the type of images that engrosses the publics imagination (aka gives NASA more tax dollars) as Hubble does. JWST is also still relatively early in its development cycle, with a launch date of no earlier than 2013, and that's assuming there are no delays.

Updating Hubble? Uh oh... (1)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#16660015)

One of my dance partners works fairly high up in NASA, and he said that this morning's announcement is actually telegraphing NASA's intention to cancel the Webb space telescope. Its funding is expected to go instead to the Mars missions... indeed, Mars is going to suck up the funding of practically everything else.

Re:Updating Hubble? Uh oh... (1)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661349)

BS. First of all, there are no Mars missions on the books of the scope of JWST. By far the biggest, the Mars Surface Laboratory is projected to come in around $1 billion. JWST is a roughly $4 billion project. The plans for Mars are fairly well established through 2013, and there's nothing in there that doesn't already have it's own money. In fact, the only candidate of similar scale is the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter, which has already been postponed indefinitely (read "cancelled").

Second, if you thought the astronomers raised a fuss when O'Keefe originally cancelled the Hubble servicing mission, you literally have seen nothing yet. Researchers seem to be almost unanimously agreed that however much they value the Hubble, they'll shoot it down themselves if it threatens to steal one penny from the JWST. There's plenty left that Hubble can explore, but it's biggest discoveries are probably done. To go deeper, they need JWST.

Third, JWST is already deep into the design phase and some parts are already being made, such as the sunshade and spacecraft frame. If Griffin drops the JWST now, all that cost and effort is wasted.

But perhaps you were thinking of the Moon program? Basically the same story as Mars. The Orion CEV and the Ares I are scheduled to be completed by 2012. The LSM and Ares V development will commence in earnest somewhere around that time and fly by 2018. All this is budgeted, too, mostly from money freed up by the shuttle program. If they even tried to sneak money away from the science budget to support this, they're going to face the wrath of astronomers around the world.

She's a good bird, doing good science (1)

csoto (220540) | more than 7 years ago | (#16660127)

This is why we're in space. It's not to "fully exploit space" and, as such must "control it." We've learned a lot in very recent history. Since I was a child, the robotic missions to the far reaches of the solar system have taken us from very primitive knowledge to a better understanding of the nature of the universe and all the cool stuff out there. NASA being used to push political rhetoric gets in the way. This is a good development.

Only 4 more years? (1)

Tod DeBie (522956) | more than 7 years ago | (#16661583)

Another service mission will only get us from 2009 to 2013? That seems like an awfully short life extension compared to the expense and risk of a manned flight. Is this really the best they can do?

ISS Telescope? (1)

Marty200 (170963) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662623)

Is there any reason that a big telescope couldn't be attached to the ISS? I would think it would be very convenient then. If it needed minor maintinece there would be someone close by.

Is it an orbit thing? Is ISS not far enough out?

MG

Re:ISS Telescope? (1)

neurostar (578917) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662767)

Well, one thing I can think of is vibrations. Attaching a telescope to ISS would likely hurt the resolution of the telescope. Also, ISS might not be in the preferred orbit for a space telescople. Finally, having the telescope attached to ISS would likely limit the ability to point the telescope in any direction.

I imagine there are other issues with it, but that's all I can think of off the top of my head.

Re:ISS Telescope? (1)

Marty200 (170963) | more than 7 years ago | (#16662945)

I thought about the prefered angle, I'm not sure that you wouldn't be able to overcome it. Really if could be something that is sort of attached to the IIS, floating with in reach of the arm and attached with teathers when it's actually taking photos. . That would take care of angles and vibrations. That would just leave the orbit problem.

But really what do I know. There is a reason I'm not building satelites myself.

MG

Re:ISS Telescope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16662997)

They are in very different orbits. An orbital change would require a substantial fraction of the delta-V required to launch the Hubble in the first place.
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