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Hubble Camera Lost "For Good"

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the blind-eye dept.

Space 190

Several readers wrote in to tell us, following up on the recent story of the shutting down of Hubble's main camera, that program engineers are now saying that the camera is probably gone for good. The trouble resulted from a short circuit on Saturday in Hubble's most popular instrument, the Advanced Camera for Surveys. NASA engineers reported Monday that most of the camera's capabilities, including the ability to take the sort of deep cosmic postcards that have inspired the public, had probably been lost. We'll be pining for more of those amazing images until the James Webb launches in 2013.
Update: 01/30 23:28 GMT by KD : Reader Involved astronomer wrote in with an addendum / clarification to this story: "I'm a grant-funded astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute (www.stsci.edu) in Baltimore. I am very concerned that the article conveys the wrong idea about HST. While HST's science capacity is diminished with the loss of ACS, HST lives on and will continue to produce world-class science, even before its servicing mission in Sept. 2008, which will upgrade the instrument suite with the most sophisticated imagers in history." Read on for the rest of his note.I'd like to point out these facts:

  1. A fuse blew on ACS side two electronics — This will LIKELY (we're not 100% sure yet) render the Wide-field channel and the High-resolution channel (e.g. 2/3rds of the camera) inoperable. The solar blind channel will likely be returned to operation.
  2. While we have lost (2/3rds) of ACS, NICMOS and WFPC2, two fantastic imagers, are still operational. WFPC2 is responsible for many of the gorgeous images that grace many of your desktop wallpapers.
  3. ACS had an expected lifetime of 5 years. It met that lifetime. The loss of ACS, while of course disappointing, is not necessarily a shock.
  4. Servicing mission 4 is currently scheduled for Sept. 2008. It will upgrade HST to never-before-seen scientific capability and productivity. The Wide-Field Camera 3, which will be installed then, will essentially be an even more sophisticated successor to ACS.
In short, the reports of Hubble's demise are GREATLY exaggerated. She will continue to produce world-class science and incredible images. While we are disappointed with the (apparent) loss of ACS, HST will live on well into the next decade.

You can view one of our press releases on this here: http://hubblesite.org/acs/.

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190 comments

Not really . . . (-1, Troll)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820180)

It's not really, "lost for good." They could fix it, probably at a cost about 20 times less than the original one, with new technology. But Dubya needs money for the, "War in Iraq," or the, "War on Terror," instead.

Re:Not really . . . (1, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820234)

Funny, NASA hasn't had problems funding the next generation of space telescope development, even with all of Bush's dealings.

I dislike the current president as much as anyone, but he isn't the cause of all bad things in the world. It makes a poster look juvenile and irrational to blame it all on Bush. NASA has already decided to retire the Hubble since there are new things on the way.

Re:Not really . . . (3, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820496)

I dislike the current president as much as anyone, but he isn't the cause of all bad things in the world. It makes a poster look juvenile and irrational to blame it all on Bush. NASA has already decided to retire the Hubble since there are new things on the way.

My problem with the administration (and Congress) was that it cut NASA's funding. NASA had budgeted the James Webb to go online in 2013 and the Hubble to be serviced until 2013 so there would not be any disruption in service. With budget cuts, NASA had to make hard choices. At the same time, the administration was pushing NASA to start a program to put a man on Mars--an effort that would cost many times more than keeping the Hubble going. That's where I put the blame on the decisions in policy, not so much the "evilness" but policy.

For those out there who say that there is a replacement on the way, bear in mind the replacement is 6 years away. That's not too far away, right? Tell that to a scientist who has waited patiently for years for some time with the Hubble. He or she is going to have to do something else in the meantime. Science will have to wait.

Re:Not really . . . (-1, Troll)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820708)

My problem with the administration (and Congress) was that it cut NASA's funding.
My problem with them is they didn't zero out Nasa's funding (and a lot of other useless agencies). Seriously, they are a waste of money.

Why? (1)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821542)

Seriously, they are a waste of money.

How is aerospace engineering and basic science a waste of money?

Re:Why? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17821862)

NASA's aerospace engineering certainly is. How many different ways does the US Military need to drop bombs on people?

Re:Not really . . . (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820276)

Well now, I'm all for restraining Dubya from spending public money on pointless wars and redirecting that money to more fruitful purposes, but one should examine the cost of fixing Hubble in-situ yet again, or launching another one. Since the James Webb is already been worked on and is supposed to be put in orbit in 2013, I don't think Hubble is worth spending the estimated $1.3bn, unless scientists can make a damn good case for a speedy repair.

Re:Not really . . . (3, Informative)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820386)

the problem I have with the James-Webb telescope is it isn't a *replacement* for Hubble. JW is a non-visible (infrared) scope, and won't produce the type of images Hubble has.

keeping the masses 'in favor' of spending on space involves giving them some of the stuff they want, namely the magnificent pictures Hubble has been providing for years.

If they can't see it, then they won't want to fund it as much.


Re:Not really . . . (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820566)

the problem I have with the James-Webb telescope is it isn't a *replacement* for Hubble. JW is a non-visible (infrared) scope, and won't produce the type of images Hubble has.

I'm certainly not a specialist, but while visible spectrum images are more stunning for the general public, maybe IR images are more useful to astronomers? What's more, now the Hubble is demised, perhaps it's possible to give the James Webb the option of imaging in other parts of the spectrum as well as IR as an afterthought.

keeping the masses 'in favor' of spending on space involves giving them some of the stuff they want, namely the magnificent pictures Hubble has been providing for years. If they can't see it, then they won't want to fund it as much.

I'm sorry but not everything can be driven by what people can see or appreciate. If it was, there wouldn't be mathematicians or theoretical physicians. I assume that if astronomers are now building a IR space telescope, it's because they have more use for IR signals (that can't be received on the ground) than visible light ones, and in this case the public should learn to appreciate research for what it is, even if they can't marvel at it on a large poster in the outhouse. In any case, I'm sure NASA has a PR department that'll do a great job colorizing IR images for public consumption.

Actually... (1)

Transdimentia (840912) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820886)

Actually the reason they settled on JW was so they could point it at the ground and learn what channels are being tuned to and when with everybody's remote controls.

Re:Not really . . . (1)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821578)

Your point gets made a lot, but:

1.) You can see in visible light from the ground, and several modern telescopes beat the hubble in that respect.

2.) Ultraviolet (another capability that will be lost with Hubble) isn't as interesting to astronomers as infrared. JWST will far outperform Hubble in IR. Some capabilities you just can't afford, otherwise we'd probably have half a dozen variations on the Hubble in orbit.

3.) JWST will also produce stunning images. They just won't be true color. For that matter, neither are most of the Hubble images. Moot point.

Re:Not really . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17820412)

you've gotta be kidding me. don't get me wrong, im not a fan of bush by any means, but your statement really gets to me. instead of blaming bush, why not blame time magazines 2006 person of the year for not doing anything about it par posting their ill contempt on webpages.

as long as the american people stand by idly nagging nothing will change (for the better, at least).

it never ceases to amaze me how many americans will blame all the problems on one man -- one man that doesn't even wield the power they think he does.

it also never ceases to amaze me at how well the smoke and mirrors have worked on americans, you bicker about all the petty trivial problems of no importance (gay marriage) and let them divide you as a people when, at their base level, they are completely unimportant. (republican vs democrat, liberal vs conservative).

the sad truth is, most people will never come to a knowledge of why these things are really happening, and whos behind them. [google.com]

Re:Not really . . . (2, Informative)

jonfromspace (179394) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820426)

It is not the cost of the instrument, nor the cost of a repair mission that will keep NASA from fixing Hubble, but rather a lack of available mission space to get a crew up there to do the work. The Shuttle fleet is under the gun big time to get the ISS finished before it is decommisioned. There is no other vehicle around that can dock with or, more accurately, "grab" the Hubble, so without a dedicated shuttle mission, a repair is impossible.

Looks like we will in fact be waiting till at least 2013 for any new deep field images. Atleast there is still a ton of science to be done on the existing data... So, in reality, this is much more of a loss for the armchair astronaut than it is to the real science teams.

Re:Not really . . . (1)

Erwos (553607) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821820)

"There is no other vehicle around that can dock with or, more accurately, "grab" the Hubble, so without a dedicated shuttle mission, a repair is impossible."

Not true. I was directly involved with the plans to send a robot up to service the Hubble. It was definitely feasible - we even worked on various orbit scenarios to make it happen. The fact that it was decided to use a shuttle does _not_ mean there were no other alternatives. (I used to be a contractor at NASA GSFC.)

Re:Not really . . . (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821882)

The Shuttle fleet is under the gun big time to get the ISS finished before it is decommisioned.

That makes a lot of sense... Much like "I've got to finish painting the barn before we burn it down", or "Let me plant this last petunia before you rotory-tiller the flower beds", or "I'm sorry, that paper will need to be signed before we can shred it" make a lot of sense.

I think, in a lot of ways, we need to "reboot" NASA.

Re:Not really . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17821108)

"They could fix it, probably at a cost about 20 times less than the original one"

Oh please. The *total* cost to develop and launch the original Hubble was about $2 billion. Any Hubble servicing mission is estimated to cost an excess of $1billion a pop.

Fuck Twofo To The Death (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17820182)

Twofo [twofo.co.uk] Is Dying

DC++ [dcpp.net] hub.twofo.co.uk:4144

It is official; Netcraft confirms: Twofo is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleagured University of Warwick [warwick.ac.uk] filesharing community when ITS confirmed that Twofo total share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all file sharing. Coming hot on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that Twofo has lost more share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Twofo is collapsing in complete disarry, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in the recent Student comprehensive leeching test.

You don't need to be one of the Hub Operators to predict Twofo's future. The hand writing is on the toilet wall: Twofo faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for Twofo because Twofo is dying. Things are looking very bad for Twofo. As many of us are already aware, Twofo continues to lose users. Fines and disconnections flow like a river of feces [tubgirl.com] .

N00b Campus users are the most endangered of them all, having lost 93% of their total share. The sudden and unpleasant departures of long time Twofo sharers fool_on_the_hill and Twinklefeet only serves to underscore the point more clearly. There can no longer be any doubt: Twofo is dying.

Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

Sources indicate that there are at most 150 users in the hub. How many filelists have been downloaded? Let's see. 719. But 1621 IP addresses have been logged, and 1727 nicks have been sighted connecting to one user over the last term. How many searches are there? 600 searches in 3 hours. The highest sharer on campus, known as "firstchoice", or Andrew.Maddison@warwick.ac.uk in real life, was sharing over 1 TiB, despite working in ITS and not being on the resnet. He's only there so people off campus who think they're too good for bittorrent can continue to abuse the University's internet connection.

Due to troubles at the University of Warwick, lack of internet bandwidth, enforcements of Acceptable Usage Policies, abysmal sharing, retarded leechers, clueless n00bs, and ITS fining and disconnecting users, Twofo has no future. All major student surveys show that Twofo has steadily declined in file share. Twofo is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very dim. If Twofo is to survive at all it will be among p2p hardcore fuckwits, desperate to grab stuff for free off the internet. Nothing short of a miracle could save Twofo from its fate at this point in time. For all practical purposes, Twofo is dead.

Fact: Twofo is dying

Looks like my wallpaper won't be changing for a (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820192)

while. I'd always post the latest Hubble image as my desktop wallpaper. I'm sure many other people did this too.

Re:Looks like my wallpaper won't be changing for a (1)

CommunistHamster (949406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820340)

Well, all good things come to an end. Cheer up, the JW telescope will be able to produce even better images and data thanks to the technological advances of the last twenty years, and the lessons learned from Hubble.

Re:Looks like my wallpaper won't be changing for a (2, Informative)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820456)

JW is infrared...i.e. non-visible. So I don't think it will be producing the same type of amazing images. A different kind of amazing, but nothing like Hubble.

Re:Looks like my wallpaper won't be changing for a (2, Informative)

CommunistHamster (949406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821190)

True, but most of Hubbles images are in false colour. All the nebulae and supernova remnants for example are too faint to be seen by the naked eye excepts as greyish clouds, so the iconic images seen on APOD are actually colourised IR or UV images.

Re:Looks like my wallpaper won't be changing for a (5, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820346)

while. I'd always post the latest Hubble image as my desktop wallpaper. I'm sure many other people did this too.

You mean this one [photobucket.com] ?

Re:Looks like my wallpaper won't be changing for a (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17820420)

"I'm sure many other people did this too."

Why do you assume that just because you like to do something, other people do also?

That's yet another indication of my basic thesis that all humans are little megalomaniacal selfish arrogant pricks.

Re:Looks like my wallpaper won't be changing for a (0, Flamebait)

noidentity (188756) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820628)

Why do you assume that he/she used such logic? Perhaps he/she thought "Hmmm, putting nice images on the desktop. I'm sure other people do that besides me." I guess if he/she thought otherwise, you could claim he/she consider him/herself unique, another "sign" of a selfish ignorant prick.

Summary: whatever you do, there are probably a few other people who do that as well.

Re:Looks like my wallpaper won't be changing for a (1)

AnotherHiggins (925608) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820704)

No, assuming that he is _so_ unique that no one else in the whole wide world would think to use Hubble as a source for backgrounds would be indicative of a "little megalomaniacal selfish arrogant prick".

Your (AC) post, on the other hand, indicates that many humans are idiots whose theses are meaningless because they don't understand big words, much less what they mean.

Re:Looks like my wallpaper won't be changing for a (1, Flamebait)

pilbender (925017) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820982)

Does this mean that you're not human? Or does it mean that you're a megalomaniacal arrogant prick?

Misleading. You will still have great wallpapers (4, Informative)

iamlucky13 (795185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821250)

Actually, although the Advanced Camera for Surveys produces some of the deepest and highest resolution images, especially of distant objects, it is the wide-field planetary camera that produces a lot of the most memorable images, such as the "Pillars of Creation" in the Eagle Nebula.

Hubblesite.org has a good layman's description [hubblesite.org] of the instruments on the Hubble.

Also, we're still getting many fine images of the planets, stars, galaxies, and nebulae around us from the Spitzer [nasa.gov] and the multitude of ground-based [nasa.gov] scopes that make great backgrounds. And don't forget the fantastic Mars rovers [nasa.gov] or Cassini. [nasa.gov]

think i can wait... (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820200)

"We'll be pining for more of those amazing images until the James Webb launches in 2013. "

I think I can wait...

Re:think i can wait... (5, Informative)

ogre7299 (229737) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820530)

For those of you that don't know, Hubble still has two working instruments, the Wide Field Planetary Camera (WFPC2) and NICMOS. Both instruments are very capable of still doing good science. In fact, until 2002 the beautiful images we see were mostly from WFPC2, ACS wasn't installed until the last servicing mission. NICMOS is a near-infrared camera and still works fine. I would assume that repairing ACS would be a big priority now since its camera provided the best scientific data.

For those of you questioning whether or not Hubble should be serviced or just wait for James Webb, you ought to know that Hubble and James Webb will not cover the same wavelengths. Hubble covers UV, visible, and near-infrared. James Webb will cover Near to mid-infrared. James Webb can't do all the science that Hubble can and vice versa. However, ground-based adaptive optics imaging are hoped to be able to provide image quality as good as Hubble by the time it is ready to be retired sometime in the next decade. Also, because of the atmosphere, from the ground, we cannot observe all the infrared wavelengths that James Webb will be able to.

Re:think i can wait... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17820780)

"We'll be pining for more of those amazing images until the James Webb launches in 2013. "
That gives me a thought - has anyone checked to see if maybe the Hubble camera's not dead and is just pining for the fjords?

Re:think i can wait... (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821128)

It's not pining, it's passed on. This camera is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late camera. It's a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you shot it in to space to the orbit, it would be pushing up the daisies. It's rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-camera.

Re:think i can wait... (1)

TigerPlish (174064) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821312)

It's not pining, it's passed on. This camera is no more. It has ceased to be. It's expired and gone to meet its maker. This is a late camera. It's a stiff. Bereft of life, it rests in peace. If you shot it in to space to the orbit, it would be pushing up the daisies. It's rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-camera.
You mean....

Can it be...

It's dead, Jim.

Re:think i can wait... (1)

wwphx (225607) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821482)

Unfortunately the James Webb Telescope [wikipedia.org] is an infrared, it's images won't be like what we're used to seeing.

Re:think i can wait... (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821752)

Fortunately, the images will be better.

If the military can colorize the output from infrared goggles realtime to look 'real', I'm sure the brains at NASA can colorize infrared images just like they colorize the Hubble images.

The Spitzer telescope has produced a few pretty images.

No time in the upcoming servicing mission (3, Informative)

D'Eyncourt (237843) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820236)

Before anyone asks: the upcoming shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope is already booked solid with other work.

Re:No time in the upcoming servicing mission (2, Funny)

Trikenstein (571493) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820564)

well, can't they postpone *Do Gerbils Crap Spheres In Zero G?* experiments until a later launch?

Re:No time in the upcoming servicing mission (2, Funny)

s20451 (410424) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820960)

Now we'll never know if ants can sort tiny screws in space!

Re:No time in the upcoming servicing mission (3, Interesting)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821010)

They're less likely to send a second mission to Hubble because of safety. From whats publicly available, it was hard to convince the safety guys to agree to one mission without the possibility of the ISS as a lifeboat. Also I think all planned launches except the Hubble repair are ISS construction launches.

I do wonder about that Hubble repair launch. Their not big on changing mission profiles significantly, and I'm certainly no expert on what they're doing to it, but it seems that some of the repairs may not be worthwhile if that camera is down, or if they might decided that not doing as much (i.e. letting it die sooner) but replacing the camera might be worth it. But like I said, I don't know much about how the Hubble works and what the current repair plans are.

Re:No time in the upcoming servicing mission (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17821376)

The upcoming Hubble Servicing Mission already has two new science instruments on the manifest: the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3, a replacement for the venerable Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 - WFPC2) and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS). WFC3 wasn't intended to be a replacement for the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), but the new instrument should be able to do much of the imaging science that is now lost with the ACS visible-wavelength detectors down.

Information on the Hubble Servicing Mission can be found from NASA's Hubble site:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/servicing /index.html [nasa.gov]

Re:No time in the upcoming servicing mission (2, Interesting)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821652)

The rest of the Hubble Telescope is still working. We want the parts that are still working to be maintained: they served us well for twenty years, so we might as well squeeze a little more out of them.
Better just the ACS than the whole telescope.
And hey, if we're fortunate, they might put in another nice camera in 2008 to hold everyone over until that infrared one gets launched. They can make time for it--this was clearly a well-loved camera, and the people and science boards have some voice.
I really think that the safety concerns for space shuttle trips are pushed too hard. We know space is dangerous, we know we're still exploring, so why can't we just accept the risks?

Re:No time in the upcoming servicing mission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17820588)

I suppose it's INCONCEIVABLE to change the schedule, eh?

Re:No time in the upcoming servicing mission (5, Insightful)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820928)

I suppose it's INCONCEIVABLE to change the schedule, eh?
This isn't "Armageddon". They need time to certify and train the astronauts for making those repairs and that takes a long time.

Re:No time in the upcoming servicing mission (1, Funny)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821872)

Too bad, I just know Ben Affleck could pull it off.

Bonus points for dying in the attempt.

Webb in 2013? (2, Insightful)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820252)

Riiiiight. Like Shuttle in '79? Or Alpha in '95? Or how about Hubble in '86? *sigh*

Re:Webb in 2013? (1)

forand (530402) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820812)

Sure it is funny but it is also true. Funding for science has decreased within NASA with the change in focus towards a manned mission to Mars. While only temporary, hopefully, the US budget being only a continuing resolution means that the people researching technology for James Web will have to spend more time finding funding or not work on the project till funding increases.

With all the people excited about the images that Hubble has given us, let alone the science, hopefully some will begin to realize that the drive to Mars is hurting the science normally performed through NASA.

Re:Webb in 2013? (2, Insightful)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 7 years ago | (#17822180)

Well, you've named three NASA projects that ended up running late. Now, can you name three which went live as originally scheduled?

Now that you've done that, can you explain your point?

it's not dead (5, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820280)

We'll be pining for more of those amazing images until the James Webb launches in 2013.

Will those images be of the fjords?

Re:it's not dead (2, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820400)

Norwegian space telescopes stun easily...

Re:it's not dead (2, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820452)

Norwegian space telescopes stun easily...

I'm sure if we went up there we'd find the only reason it remains perched where it is, is because it's been nailed there.

Damn Sony... (0, Offtopic)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820348)

...and their poorly made Cybershot cameras. I ruined mine on my recent trip to beautiful Switzerland, and had to make do with a disposable camera.

That, and now the Hubble camera. I wish we'd gone with a Canon.

Conspiracy theory (0, Troll)

LineGrunt (133002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820366)

Gee...

NASA wants to end the Hubble Mission.

Public demands that it stay on-line.

NASA says that "Hubble is saved."

Main "pretty picture" instrument dies...

Hmmm...

Re:Conspiracy theory (1)

Excelcia (906188) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820494)

Not a conspiracy at all. It's a public that gets a value from Hubble, who also happens to be paying for it, demanding to have a say in what they are paying for.

What is wrong with the people making the purchase having a say in what they are buying?

Re:Conspiracy theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17820822)

Reading comprehension. It's a concept you should try once in a while.

Re:Conspiracy theory (3, Interesting)

Mr. Hankey (95668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820510)

"NASA" doesn't want to end it per se, there are people who work on that project and use the data who would like to see it continue. The issue is whether there are sufficient funds to keep the Hubble telescope going, while taking care of other ongoing missions and work to prepare for the planned future missions. If congress hands NASA a lump of cash and tells them "This is for Hubble", Hubble will be serviced. Until that happens, there's a lot of work to be done before we have our shuttle replacement and a manned base on the moon. My humble opinion, not the opinion of NASA, legalese blah blah blah, but based on observation.

Could the NSA help? (2, Interesting)

yellowbkpk (890493) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820382)

What if the NSA pointed one of their old drifting recon birds the wrong way and refocused it a few million light years from here?

I realize the optics aren't set up to do far-field imaging, but maybe it'd be cheaper and quicker than waiting to fix the Hubble?

If all you want is a blurry mess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17820790)

then go right ahead. I doubt the pictures would be any better than taking a regular camera set to macro mode and turning it skyward.

Re:Could the NSA help? (3, Informative)

p_trekkie (597206) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820944)

What if the NSA pointed one of their old drifting recon birds the wrong way and refocused it a few million light years from here?

I realize the optics aren't set up to do far-field imaging, but maybe it'd be cheaper and quicker than waiting to fix the Hubble?


An intriguing idea. However, I don't think it will work. The focus would not be the major issue though, as the difference in focussing between 500km and 500pc is relatively minor.

I suspect the main issue would be noise. Hubble's CCDs were specifically designed to have the lowest possible noise, whereas in the case of an NSA satellite, they have so much more signal from Earth (>1000x) than from the next dimmest thing in the solar system that the system might not be physically capable of taking the necessary long exposures. However, they might be able to do some sort of astronomy with a series of stacked images, much as is done with web cam astronomy. [navy.mil] Anyway, just some thoughts... there are probably other reasons it hasn't been done yet that I haven't thought of yet....

Re:Could the NSA help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17821974)

there are rumors among astronomers that the NSA already knows the nature of dark energy, they just won't tell us because of national security reasons...

I think I speak for all HST fans with Tourette's (-1, Offtopic)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820390)

when I say: Fuck fuck fuckity-fuck fuck ass-raping horse fuck shit balls cock fuck fuck fuckity-fushizle-fuck!

and yet... (2, Insightful)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820418)

This nation has a serious priority issue. If even a small fraction of the money we're throwing away on Iraq were to go to things like space exploration, we'd probably have a fleet of Hubbles up there watching our first Mars landing. I'd blame this on the politicians, but someone had to vote them in. Maybe when China puts a man on Mars ahead of us will we wake up and start doing our part to advance the human race, even if it's for the wrong reason.

Re:and yet... (1, Insightful)

susano_otter (123650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820580)

Dude, there are horrible genocides happening in Africa. North Korea holds Seoul hostage while it builds nuclear weapons and supplies terrorist networks. World temperatures are rising at the same time as world energy resources are dwindling. Ten thousand other horrors are playing out world-wide. And you want to spend the Iraq war funds on telescopes to watch a robot land on Mars?

Who's got the priority problems?

Re:and yet... (1)

NG Resonance (794484) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821236)

What does the morass in Iraq have to do with Darfur, Burundi, and DR Congo?

Re:and yet... (1)

AnnoyedDroid (1057688) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821536)

Most people will admit that, even though we are doing nothing about them, the atrocities in Darfur, Burundi and the Congo are problems that should be dealt with. The difference between them and Iraq is that we actually DID something productive (you know, taking down Saddam). If we moved into Darfur to try and restore some concept of civilized living to them we would suddenly have a problem.

It seems to me like a bunch of big talk. "We should save Darfur!", everyone agrees. But no one is willing to stand up and do it, and if they do, everyone reverses their stand and says "It's not our business."

Iraq under Saddam and Darfur are similar. Not the same, no, but both have/had their reprehensible atrocities.

Re:and yet... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17821786)

Why the fuck is that our problem? A bunch of stupid niggers who have been historically incapable of building or maintaining civilizations are hardly our concern. Nature will sort them out.

Civilization was built on the backs of evolutionary superiors. We need not go back to banging on bongo drums just because a bunch of evolutionary left-behinds cannot get their shit together.

the hunger in the world? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17821546)

the hunger in the world?

but isn't the James Webb technology old (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17820466)

I think the James Webb technology is from the late 1990's when the specs were made. So I don't expect a dramatic difference from Hubble.

The Beeb Disagrees... (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820480)

From The Beeb [bbc.co.uk] :

Hubble is due to receive a new camera during a planned servicing mission by space shuttle in 2008.

This should recover all of the capability lost in the latest failure.

"The successful completion of [the shuttle mission] and insertion of Wide Field Camera-3 (WFC3) will take us fully back to not only where we are now, but where we want [the telescope] to be in the future," said David Leckrone, Nasa's senior project scientist on Hubble.

So uh, WTF? Who is right? Will this camera be replaced in 2008, or not?

Re:The Beeb Disagrees... (4, Funny)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820678)

It's all a 'GO', they are just waiting for a floppy to update the firmware.

Re:The Beeb Disagrees... (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821138)

Just waiting for someone to push that floppy in all the way and press the little red button.

Uh oh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17821366)

It's all a 'GO', they are just waiting for a floppy to update the firmware.

Houston, we have a problem... [bbc.co.uk]

Re:The Beeb Disagrees... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17820722)

Hubble is scheduled to get a new camera (WFC3="Wide Field Camera 3") in the 2008 Servicing Mission 4 (SM4, http://hubble.nasa.gov/missions/sm4.php [nasa.gov] ). The camera that just (mostly) failed (ACS="Advanced Camera for Surveys") would have operated in parallel with the new WFC3 camera. Hubble has yet another camera (WFPC2=Wide Field Planetary Camera 2) that is still operating normally. NASA loves acronyms. Long live Hubble!

Re:The Beeb Disagrees... (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821968)

WTF? Who is right? Will this camera be replaced in 2008, or not?

No, stop, relax, you're both right. There is a mission planned for 2008 but it will never happen.

Cry me a river (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17820572)

Boo-fucking-hoo. PEOPLE ARE DYING DUE TO WAR DISEASE AND FAMINE EVERYDAY AND THIS CRAP GETS A PROMINENT FIRST PAGE PLACEMENT ? How about, News for Nerds, Minor Technical Glitches That Don't Matter in the Slightest in The Grand Scheme of Things ?

Space Camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17820706)

When I was coming back from San Fran a couple weeks ago (after Macworld) there was a multi-million dollar NASA camera that'll be on the next space ship going through security at the same time I was. You'd think they'd check those things before hand.

There is hope. (2)

Cyraan (840132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820758)

STS-125 [wikipedia.org] is scheduled to launch in 2008, and is supposed to be conducting the final service mission. Don't think there has been any official word yet on fixing/replacing the camera yet though, but it would seem wasteful not to, unless they just decide to scrub the mission.

service it quick (3, Informative)

gsn (989808) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820832)

Yes this is very sad but even without ACS Hubble still has WFP2 and NICMOS so its entirely worth servicing it because it can still do bleeding edge science. I don't think there is much hope for servicing ACS. Most of the large ground based telescopes come equipped with atmospheric dispersion correctors (two fancy counter-rotating prisms) and Shack-Hartmann sensors and these along with the larger primary make up a lot of the difference for some science purposes, though ACS will be sorely missed and soon. HST proposals were due recently so they'll probably extend the call for proposals by a few weeks but there will be a lot of unhappy folks who will have to go back to the drawing board so to speak and start from scratch.

If you still want pretty pictures for your desktop - this is not really the point but its astronomy for the soul which is very important - then theres a fairly large collection of ACS images http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/archive/frees earch/acs/viewall/1 [spacetelescope.org] and you can get some pretty stunning images from the ground with relatively small telescopes - some of the bigger names in astrophotography like Robert Gendler, Neil Fleming, Ron Wodawski do some stunning stuff.

Debris from Chinese tests? (1, Interesting)

skintigh2 (456496) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820850)

I read in an article on yahoo news, which I cannot find right now, that some of hubble's electrical shorts may have been related to debris floating in space. Is the HST in the same orbit as the satellite that China recently blew up?

Hubble gone is no real loss (0, Troll)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17820866)

Access to Hubble has always been severely limited and imagery and other data
was screened by NASA. Even images transmitted to the ground were encrypted.

Re:Hubble gone is no real loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17821782)

Access to Hubble has always been severely limited and imagery and other data
was screened by NASA. Even images transmitted to the ground were encrypted.


All Hubble data (note: all Hubble data) is available from the Hubble Archive at
the Space Telescope Science Institute (http://archive.stsci.edu/hst). Scientists who
propose to use Hubble are granted a one-year proprietary period on their data,
but those data are available after that proprietary period.

Incidentally, Hubble is not "gone". There are still two imaging instruments on-board
Hubble that are working fine (the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 and the Near Infrared
Multi-Object Spectrometer), as well as the Fine Guidance Sensors. Two new
instruments are slated to be installed in the next Servicing Mission in late 2008.

Finally, the first step towards the elimination of (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17821104)

NASA. Hopefully the hubble's orbit will decay crash into the the White House in the USian Capitol to take out the USian dictator. Then the Fucktarded USians will call for the elimination of NASA!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!!!

GO AHEAD, FUCKING FLAME AWAY OR WASTE YOUR GODDAMED MOD POINTS FUCKTARDED SHITDOT SHEEPLE!

Re:Finally, the first step towards the elimination (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17821152)

so i heard u like mudkips

James Webb is not a replacement.. (2, Informative)

johnny maxwell (1050822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821294)

..to Hubble, it's merely its successor by NASA. I think it should be stressed that they are different kind of telescopes, James Webb is supposed to be an infrared only telescope whereas Hubble is UV, optical and near-infrared.
Far to often people speak about James Webb as the ultimate replacement for Hubble. However the optical and UV bands will be lost without it.

Hubble pictures are nice 'n' all... (2, Interesting)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821304)

...but the excitement of seeing some of those pictures can't compare with what I felt when I first saw this pair of galaxies [nasa.gov] and the Orion Nebula [nasa.gov] with my own eyes in my shiny new low cost ($300) 8" reflector (even if they didn't look as spectacular as in those pictures I linked to).

Photoshop is your friend? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17821368)

Perhaps we should all pick up Photoshop (or GIMP for all you luddites) and make our own space images?

I've done this on many an occasion, and it turned out pretty well, plus, it wasn't even my idea to start making these kinds of wallpapers...

People like Greg Martin (Google him), or the guy running digitalblasphemy.com have just made their own, to their taste, with what I'd say is higher clarity than Hubble really achieved.

Just a couple of pennies in the /. pot.

HoosierGeek

According to the Bad Astronomer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17821522)

To replaces the ACS, "111 screws have to be taken out, to get to the part to be replaced! Yikes."

Anyone notice China's cloud of junk? (1, Interesting)

heroine (1220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17821846)

The news conspicuously avoided any mention of China and the cloud of junk China sent shooting through space right before all these satellites failed.

MSNBC said the ACS was the primary producer of data since 2002 and it could not be replaced in a single repair mission. MSNBC also said it failed 2 months short of its 5 year mission. People like MSNBC. They like Keith Olbermann. They trust Keith Olbermann more than their own eyes. MSNBC gave quite a bleaker picture than the funded astronomer.

The real fear is they'll cancel the next repair mission because it's a lost cause. Not good if you're living on Hubble grants.

Fuse Blew? (3, Funny)

cmacb (547347) | more than 7 years ago | (#17822050)

Man oh man, they should have used a circuit breaker instead of a fuse. I'd hate to get up there with a bag of those little fuses and find out I had to go back to the service station for the right one.

To NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17822182)

Just expand the next servicing mission, please?!?!

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