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NASA Unveils Hubble's Successor

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the new-and-improved dept.

NASA 188

dalutong writes "BBC News has an article detailing NASA's replacement for the much-loved Hubble telescope. The $4.5 billion telescope will be placed in orbit 1.5 million km from Earth and will be almost three times the size of the Hubble. It is set to launch in 2013. They also plan to service the Hubble in 2008."

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So if this one breaks ... (5, Funny)

johnlcallaway (165670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19078919)

... who's going to fix it????

Re:So if this one breaks ... (4, Informative)

rossdee (243626) | more than 7 years ago | (#19078981)

Its going to be nearly a million miles away, so its out of reach for any repair mission (for the forseable future anyway.)

Re:So if this one breaks ... (5, Informative)

quinspr70c0l (1089355) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079713)

I recall that the Orion program which is currently under development will have the capability to do the job. It is slated to replace the shuttle and also have the ability to reach the moon. One of the goals was to be able to do a service mission of the JWT far far away. More info here. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/ma in/index.html/ [nasa.gov]

I thought space telescopes were obsolete... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080357)

I'm sure I remember reading about how newer ground-based telescopes with adaptive optics were better than space telescopes and a fraction of the cost...

Yet here we are spending billions on servicing Hubble and launching $5 billion objects into space.

Re:I thought space telescopes were obsolete... (5, Informative)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080533)

Ground based telescopes are good only for light that is not filtered by the atmosphere. There is a whole lot of spectrum outside it. The JWST targets the infra-red wavelengths, which would be much harder to do with an atmosphere above it

Re:So if this one breaks ... (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079011)

You mean when they send it up with a faulty mirror?

Re:So if this one breaks ... (5, Funny)

pookemon (909195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079025)

Pffft! As if that would happen... NASA learns from it's mistakes. :)

They're far more likely to do something new - like tell it to go to the other side of the sun, via the centre of the sun.

Re:So if this one breaks ... (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079041)

Or mix metric and Imperial units, sending it crashing into the moon on the way up?

Bush is stupid with only one camera in big space (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079361)

Hubble in the space = only one photo camera in the space!

Why not 10 different evolved Hubble-like in the space?

Hubble is too old like any old non-digital analog camera.

The Hubble's succesors will be digital, >= 12 Megapixels, like any modern camera.
And their instruments are pluggable/unpluggable autonomously to be replaced by a new future technology!!!

Arrmmaggeddonn!!!

Re:Bush is stupid with only one camera in big spac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079489)

Each agency can carry its own photo-camera in the space to capture its own top-secret non-published photos:

USA's NASA [wikipedia.org]
Europe's ESA [wikipedia.org]
Russia's RFSA [wikipedia.org]
Japan's JAXA [wikipedia.org]
China's CNSA [wikipedia.org]
etc.

Re:Bush is stupid with only one camera in big spac (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079919)

your argument is unfounded and ill informed. you might want to know something about hubble before commenting. hubble is far from "too old", it's those kind of attitudes that had it almost decomissioned a few years back. Meanwhile, it's been at the cutting edge of space observation since it was launched.

It's still the most advanced piece of observatory equipment that exists, and will remain so until this new one is launched.

Re:So if this one breaks ... (2, Insightful)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079579)

Or use only SI units, and yet crash it into Mars anyway.

Re:So if this one breaks ... (5, Funny)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079347)

They're far more likely to do something new - like tell it to go to the other side of the sun, via the centre of the sun.

That's ok, they can get it to land at night.

Re:So if this one breaks ... (0)

tukkayoot (528280) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079021)

I'll do it.

Re:So if this one breaks ... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079171)

In unrelated news, Northrop Grumman engineers announced that they have set a new world record for playing the largest board game ever, a game of Settlers of Catan on gigantic hexes they had "just laying around".

Re:So if this one breaks ... (1)

scottrocket (1065416) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079321)

"The $4.5bn (£2.27bn) telescope will take up a position some 1.5 million km (930,000 miles) from Earth."
Yeah, that's one long service call.

Keeping Hubble (4, Interesting)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19078929)

Although it will see further than Hubble, JWST will see infrared, so that we still need Hubble for the visible and ultraviolet.

An servicing the Hubble is judged to be so risky that NASA originally did not plan to do it. Now they intend to do it, but with a backup shuttle in orbit in case the first one gets into trouble.

Re:Keeping Hubble (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079055)

Although it will see further than Hubble, JWST will see infrared, so that we still need Hubble for the visible and ultraviolet.
What range of infrared? Infrared is right next to visible on the spectrum, so it's not as if it's a radio telescope.

Re:Keeping Hubble (5, Informative)

Agent Orange (34692) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079169)

JWST will provide diffraction-limited images at 2 micron. It will have imaging and spectrographic capabilities in the near and mid-IR -- everything from 6000AA out to 27micron with the mid-IR imager and spectrograph (MIRI). StSci has a JWST primer online here [stsci.edu] (pdf link).

Re:Keeping Hubble (4, Informative)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079297)

The imaging will be near infrared with particular capability near 2 microns, but the 5 micron capability is alos of interest. There is also a smaller camera working from 5 to 27 microns. This is mid-infrared. The resolution of this instrument will not be so good because of the longer wavelength. The Keck Telescope can get better image quality. But what it will have is spectroscopic capability and much greater sensitivity. We've gotten quite alot of milage out of the much smaller Spitzer Space Telescope using it's 5--30 micron spectrograph. This new instrument should really open things up, allowing us to analyse stars in galaxies as they were when the universe was 12 billion years younger. All telescopes can be considered time machines, but this one is made to see some of the very first stars. You can read more about it here: http://www.stsci.edu/jwst/instruments/ [stsci.edu] .
--
Rent solar power: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Keeping Hubble (1)

TopSpin (753) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079987)

IANAA, rather a laymen at best. However JWST is hardly news; anyone that bothers to browse nasa.gov knows about it. As a result I have also wondered about the choice of wavelength for this instrument.

The resolution of this instrument will not be so good because of the longer wavelength.
I don't want to hear that. Don't misunderstand; I don't begrudge a single dime spent on it. I take it on faith that those who know best are building something incredible. Analysis of the early universe is crucial to cosmology. I get it.

The high-resolution "pretty pictures" aspect of Hubble means a lot. Perhaps more that is appreciated in academia. If all the money and drama of NASA produced nothing but Hubble it has been worth it. NASA is billing JWST as Hubble's replacement. Is it? Really? Honestly?

Personally, the most thrilling aspect of contemporary astronomy is extrasolar planets. The ESA is detecting Earth size objects from the ground. Will JWST be able to contribute to this? I can't help but wonder what sort of space-based planet finding/resolving capability could be had for $4.5G.

Note all the question marks. I'm not making an argument. I just haven't got a frig'n clue what to think about JWST as a "Hubble replacement." Convince me. I want to hear that this machine will carry on producing the sort of output that inspires the public to keep NASA funded because, one way or another, Hubble is going down and this is what we're going to be left with, if we're fortunate.

Re:Keeping Hubble (5, Interesting)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080627)

If all the money and drama of NASA produced nothing but Hubble it has been worth it. NASA is billing JWST as Hubble's replacement. Is it? Really? Honestly?
You know, to me, NASA could do nothing but produce obscure scientific data that I would never comprehend, but I'd still support them spending my tax dollars more than the fuckers who waste my money on war. $4.5 billion for a precision scientific instrument is money well spent. $4.5 billion for waging war and murdering your fellow human beings is absolutely criminal.

We dont need hubble for visible... (2, Informative)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079175)

While difficult, its much cheaper and easier to get hubble-style resolution in the optical range from ground.
Dont forget that "hugely expensive" for a ground telescope is compareable to "dirt-cheap" for a space-based one.

All 4 of the VLT telescopes were (IIRC) cheaper than a single hubble service mission. And OWL should be compareable to a modern space-telescope, too, for a fraction of the price (dont forget: its a tradeoff: better seeing vs "have to design a mirrror that can withstand the acceleraion and fits the launch vehicle).

Also, i think the huge bias on that single octave of electromagnetic radiation is out of proportion.
There arent even that many useful lines in it

Re:We dont need hubble for visible... (5, Informative)

Agent Orange (34692) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079291)

Complete bullshit.

Your cost estimates are accurate, but the rest of your argument is total shit. Adaptive optics, WHEN it works (which is rarely, and with difficulty), can approach the angular resolution of HST in a VERY SMALL field of view. You cannot get 0.05 arcsec, diffraction limited images over a wide field of view, that is possible with HST.

"Designing a mirror to withstand a launch vehicle" is a problem that has been solved. And the only two current, viable telescope proposals for telescopes larger than 10m are the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT [tmt.org] ) and the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT [gmto.org] ). OWL is not a concept that is being taken very seriously...ESO certainly hasn't put its money where its mouth is.

Your final point, about not many lines in that part of the spectrum, belies a complete lack of understanding of what you are talking about. The UV (accessible with STIS, and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, which will fly on SM4 in late '08) are so full of lines that they overlap all over the place. See, for example, Morton (2003), ApJS, 149, 205, for a comprehensive list. At low redshift, lines of HI, OI, OVI, CIV, NV, CII, SiII, SII, FeII, NI...all are in the UV, in the STIS band. Furthermore, space is the ONLY place these wavelengths can be observed, because of the atmosphere is opaque to wavelengths shorter than about 3300 angstroms.

Re:We dont need hubble for visible... (4, Funny)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079431)

Hot damn, you bitch slapped the parent post.

Re:We dont need hubble for visible... (1)

alshithead (981606) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079457)

Wow.

My only thought was that if it is to replace Hubble it should be able to do everything Hubble can and then some. :)

Re:We dont need hubble for visible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079619)

tiny nitpicky point - belies means "makes a lie of", rather than "implies" which is how you used it...

Re:We dont need hubble for visible... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079645)

As they say: "bitch get outta pocket, bitch get slapped"

Re:We dont need hubble for visible... (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079879)

Wow. Somebody at ./ who actually knows his stuff outside linux/OS.

Ok, i admit i trolled a bit with the "no interesting lines" part, (although i still have the oppinion that currently, infrared it much more interesting. Who cares about another star if one extrasolar planet after the other pops up?).
And yes, adaptive optics arent a cure-for-all. But considering the sheer amount of light gathering capacity you can put up for a few 100 millions, its still a viable alternative.

Not to say that UV isnt useful, but the athmosphere is equally opaque to the not-so-near IR, and as there is only one Space Telescope to be launched, i prefer it to be the more useful one.

Re:We dont need hubble for visible... (4, Funny)

beset (745752) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080425)

You actually know what you're talking about.

You must be new here.

Re:Keeping Hubble (4, Insightful)

Fweeky (41046) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079307)

"Now they intend to do it, but with a backup shuttle in orbit in case the first one gets into trouble."

That would be retarded; the most dangerous phases of the mission are launch and reentry, with a significantly lower risk of something going wrong while in orbit; something likely to either be so terrible you can't do anything or managable enough that you have a good long while to worry about it (e.g one of the tiles gets damaged at launch and you can't reenter safely, ala Columbia).

So no, it won't be in orbit, the backup shuttle will simply be ready to launch if needed.

Re:Keeping Hubble (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079387)

Unfortunately you beat me to the punch on this one, I spent to much time double checking flight numbers and which OV's were going to be used. Sadly enough I use Wikipedia. I can't find shit on the NASA site half the time

Re:Keeping Hubble (4, Interesting)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079367)

but with a backup shuttle in orbit in case the first one gets into trouble.

Can you please site a source for this? Right now the software cannot actually support more than one shuttle in orbit at a time, if you look there has never been more than one up at a time. If there were this type of upgrade coming I could buy that story, but considering we're going to retire the fleet soon I don't see that as likely. I haven't installed any Aries specific equipment yet, but judging by the age of most of the shuttle specific equipment on the ground they're not going to do that level of a software rewrite for the shuttle when the fleets this close to retirement. Another issue with this statement is the shear altitude of the Hubble, well above ISS orbit. If we launched one into high orbit, and kept one at low orbit the one in low orbit simply wouldn't be able to reach the one in high orbit without landing for fuel anyways. Those things launch with their trajectories pretty much set and only do slight manuvering. STS-125 is the designated flight for Hubble servicing to be done by Atlantis, there is an as yet unnumbered contingency rescue flight, I don't think they number those unless they launch these days. They may put Discovery on the pad in ready position for rescue, but I seriously doubt they'll launch it unless they have to.

On another note:
There are emergency two shuttle protocols. What that comes down to more or less is equipment time sharing.

Re:Keeping Hubble (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079409)

It definitely need help. The main camera has not been working since June of last year. They did get one channel going in February http://www.stsci.edu/resources/acs.html [stsci.edu] .
--
Grou nd based solar power: http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Keeping Hubble (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079723)

Infra red like in my TV remote? Does that mean I can distort their images? Or will they be controlling it from a "One4All" remote control?

Re:Keeping Hubble (5, Interesting)

NanoGradStudent (878951) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079883)

I was quite the fervent supporter of the Hubble up until I attended a talk by Dr. Philip Stahl, from the Marshall Space Center, and optics technical lead on the new James Webb Space Telescope.

Yes, the JWST is an infrared telescope. But, as another post further down alludes to incorrectly (for which they were smacked down and corrected by someone else) the James Webb is able to see further back into the history of the universe than we have ever been able to observe. What started out as visible light all those billions of years ago (and billions of light years away) becomes red-shifted into the infrared as the universe expands and, in a nearly literal fashion, stretches out that incoming light.

So while the Hubble has been responsible for a lot of great science, and truly breath-taking images, we have the potential to do so much more and better understand our universe with the JWST. We haven't maxed out the potential of the Hubble (probably never would), and I would love to keep it, but if there's only enough to deploy the JWST (and it's already been pushed back by several years), or keep on servicing the Hubble, my vote would be in favour of the JWST.

Re:Keeping Hubble (1)

Barryke (772876) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080229)

An servicing the Hubble is judged to be so risky that NASA originally did not plan to do it. Now they intend to do it, but with a backup shuttle in orbit in case the first one gets into trouble.
Wouldn't that just double the risk?

color me not impressed (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079039)

It was bad enough when they named a telescope after Webster Hubbell, but now they're naming one after Jim Webb, Virginia's juinor senator? Maybe if they want to be taken seriously, they should name it after, I don't know, AN ASTRONOMER????

Re:color me not impressed (1)

Skidge (316075) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079135)

No, not the senator; it's named after James Webb [wikipedia.org] , Commodore Governor for the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador for 1760.

Re:color me not impressed (1)

Starburnt (860851) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079167)

Nonsense. [wikipedia.org]

Re:color me not impressed (4, Informative)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079325)

Also wrong. Try this one. [wikipedia.org]

To quote the article...and wikipedia...and NASA... (5, Informative)

DarkEntity (1089729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079271)

..."JWST is named after James E Webb, Nasa Administrator during the Apollo lunar exploration era; he served from 1961 to 1968."
To add more evidence. Look, wikipedia!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Edwin_Webb [wikipedia.org]
To 1-up wikipedia. Look, NASA!
http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/whois.html [nasa.gov]
The man whose name NASA has chosen to bestow upon the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is most commonly linked to the Apollo moon program, not to science. Yet, many believe that James E. Webb, who ran the fledgling space agency from February 1961 to October 1968, did more for science than perhaps any other government official and that it is only fitting that the Next Generation Space Telescope would be named after him.

Re:color me not impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079495)

Jim Webb, Virginia's juinor senator?

No, you picked the wrong guy. Is Jim Webb the creator of the Internet don't you know that all around the world the WWW server are in is honor?. World Wide Webb.

Re:color me not impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079565)

Dude, either your joke entirely flopped or you've got a unique talent for sticking your foot in your mouth.

The Hubble Space Telescope was named for Edwin Hubble [wikipedia.org] , one of the discoverers of redshift, the guy who proved other galaxies existed outside our own, and one of the very few men to have ever upstaged Albert Einstein.

Much less prestigious, but still notable, the James Webb Space Telescope is named after James E. Webb [wikipedia.org] ; the second administrator of NASA, at the helm 1961 until 1968. The Gemini and much of the Apollo programs took place under his leadership.

expect aberrant myopia (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079049)

Just like the way DARPA (or whomever) mucked with the mirror on Hubble so they could see what I'm typing from orbit, we can expect 'extra-curricular' uses for JWST.

Mirror... (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080739)

hopefully, Hughes Danbury Optical Systems [harvard.edu] will not get the contract this time around.

Haha (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079085)

What's the purpose? Why spend money on sending men to the moon when people are starving on this planet? Do you know what that money could buy for some poor people?!

Re:Haha (2, Insightful)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079185)

Why are you spending money to have an internet connection, when you could give the money to people starving on this planet? Do you know what that money could buy for some poor people?

Re: Haha (-1, Troll)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079283)

What's the purpose? Why spend money on sending men to the moon when people are starving on this planet? Do you know what that money could buy for some poor people?!
Better yet, it could pay off 0.5% of George's Big Iraqi Adventure.

Re: Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079357)

Heh, reminded me of this. [wikia.com]

And just for fun, this. [encycloped...matica.com]

Re:Haha (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079379)

Fuck the poor, let them starve.

Re:Haha (4, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079471)

If the political will to feed the starving was here, we could do so and still put up the telescope. We spend the cost of the telescope a year on farm subsidies to prevent farmers from growing more crops. But the powers that be don't really give a shit.

Re:Haha (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079643)

Yeah, fuck sustainable farming. We should over-farm the soil without ever leaving it fallow to recover. I mean, soil is soil right, it's not like overfarming would lead to a dustbowl [wikipedia.org] or anything.

Re:Haha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19080185)

The more people we send to the Moon, the less are left on Earth to starve. Can't you do some fuckin' math?

Completely Offtopic!!!!! (3, Funny)

rts008 (812749) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079091)

How long is that lame /. poll going to stay????

Move on to the next subject!!!!

I have Karma to burn....mod's do not hold any fear for me!!!!

is it just me (5, Funny)

callmetheraven (711291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079123)

Is it just me or does the JWST look kind of like Barbie's Imperial Star Destroyer?

That's no moon... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079441)

I knew it was pretty big, but it wasn't until I saw a picture of the mockup [nasa.gov] with people next to it that I realized just how big it was. Suddenly you understand why it's a segmented mirror and lot's of folding pieces.

The captcha is spectrum...how fitting.

Re:is it just me (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080523)

Is it just me or does the JWST look kind of like Barbie's Imperial Star Destroyer?
Poniescope? With glitter, obviously.

Gaia (5, Interesting)

vincnetas (943756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079127)

I think Gaia probe [wikipedia.org] is more interesting, and it is planned to be launched in 2011 not in 2013 as JWST

Re:Gaia (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079443)

The age of precision cosmology is a relative term. This mission will make precision astrometry so good its a little scary. But, I do like mid-infrared so I like JWST.

Re:Gaia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19080059)

The age of precision cosmology is a relative term.

The rules are fixed and finite, as any cosmo girl should know.

But, I do like mid-infrared so I like JWST.

I'm a bit partial to #7FFF00

Coincidence? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079215)

Interesting that the old hubble finally does something really outstanding/newsworthy (discovery of dark matter) right as the new one is announced....

Coincidence or marketing ploy?

Oldest pictures of the universe (2, Informative)

cb_is_cool (1084665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079233)

As radiation travels from distant stars and passes through obstacles, gravitational lensing, dust clouds, etc., it loses energy and thus frequency eventually turning radiation from the gamma/x-ray spectrum into visible light then into infrared light. This new telescope will help us by giving us insights to some of the conditions that would be found very early on in the universe. Hubble and other similar land-based telescopes can't give us that insight because of not showing the infrared, the oldest information.

Re:Oldest pictures of the universe (4, Informative)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079341)

It is not exactly obstacles that cause the redshift, but rather the expansion of the universe. Dust can redden light, but this is really just subtracting blue light. Gravitational lensing is acromatic. In the gamma-rays, Compton scattering can shift photons to lower energy, but it does not preserve spectral features the way that the cosmological redshift does.

Six years? (3, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079263)

Can they actually do this in six years?

Re:Six years? (4, Funny)

HAKdragon (193605) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079287)

I think it's possible, it's not like their working on Duke Nukem Forever or anything.

Re:Six years? (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079405)

Or that they are starting now. I know folks on the JWST. They got the contract a while ago. This is seriously old news.

Re:Six years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079507)

FYI, this project was originally started in 1987, but didn't get serious funding for over a decade. The final basic dimensions were selected in 2001, and detailed design and development of the many new technologies it will employ has been ongoing since then. Now it's finally begun construction. It was actually supposed to launch in 2011, but 2 years ago NASA decided to delay that two years to they could defray the costs out a little more.

Re: Six years? (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079575)

FYI, this project was originally started in 1987, but didn't get serious funding for over a decade. The final basic dimensions were selected in 2001, and detailed design and development of the many new technologies it will employ has been ongoing since then. Now it's finally begun construction. It was actually supposed to launch in 2011, but 2 years ago NASA decided to delay that two years to they could defray the costs out a little more.
Thanks. Sounds like this wasn't much of an "unveiling".

Yes, but will it work? (1)

Whuffo (1043790) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079393)

I hope our NASA scientists can keep in mind that this one's going to be out of shuttle range - so sending astronauts to fix it isn't going to save the day if they launch another dud.

There's enough of us around that remember the Hubble fiasco - they're going to have to do a LOT better this time.

Re:Yes, but will it work? (2, Interesting)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079417)

Shuttle range wont really matter. They're retiring the fleet. I'm not sure if it will be in Ares I range or not, but it will surely be in Ares V range. The one thing I worry about on the whole Ares/Orin setup. The shuttle wasn't the best of designs for a lot of things, but one thing it was - it was a good work platform. Going back to capsules is great for a lot of reasons, but I do think an Ares V work platform module would be a good idea. Maybe even Ares I launchable fuel containers. I'll run that past the brain bunch, they shot down my whole Hubble as an ISS hood ornament idea really fast.

Re:Yes, but will it work? (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080613)

Haven't they had like several missions to fix Hubble? It seems like half the shuttle missions in the 90s were for that purpose. I don't see how they are going to make this work if they can't service it. It will just end up being a waste of money.

Let me guess.... (2, Funny)

MLease (652529) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079419)

When they start getting images from the JWST, they'll see a dude in a flowing white robe and beard waving his arms; lip readers will ultimately be able to make out the words "Let there be light!" in Hebrew.

-Mike

Re:Let me guess.... (1)

bmgoau (801508) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080021)

Saying "Let there be Light" implies there was no light before-hand, thus how could we see this man before light existed.

How about that Northrop Grummen (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079435)

How is it that Grummen stuff always looks like its made with origami? :0)

The light's long gone! (1)

Beekster (732448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079529)

FTA: - "Clearly we need a much bigger telescope to go back much further in time to see the very birth of the universe," said Edward Weiler, director of Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre.

Now at the birth of the universe, the light started leaving at the speed of light, the matter somewhat slower. Without time-travel, or faster than light travel, no telescope can witness the big bang, or even events "relatively" soon afterwards.

If there was a big bang about 15 billion years ago, that light is now 15 billion light years in every direction from wherever the big bang happened, with all the matter (well) inside a sphere of that diameter. Good luck catching the light.

Re:The light's long gone! (4, Interesting)

cnettel (836611) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079647)

Big Bang was no explosion, it was the expansion of space. The shape of space is a question that's been open to some discussion, but you should not assume that the light got away and is sitting on the "edge" somewhere (or expanding the edge), because there is no such edge. Also, during much of the initial period of the universe's existence, it was opaque -- the energy levels of matter were high enough that just about any EM radiation was continuously absorbed and re-emitted, giving us the background radiation.

The most important aspect here might also be the fact that space expansion is a local event. On a large enough "distance", the speed of that event, if we just tried to add together the relative expansion per unit length, would exceed c. It can certainly approach it. There is/should be matter much farther away than the 2 * 15 bly "bubble" that would be the theoretical maximum of matter simply going in all directions at the point of Big Bang.

Re:The light's long gone! (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079651)

Well, I'm guessing if you talk to the right Time Lord, he'll tell you were he placed a mirror a long ways off just before the big bang so that you can point at it with a telescope and in turn see the birth of the universe in its reflection.

Re:The light's long gone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19079849)

The "Big Bang" didn't happen "wherever", it happened EVERYWHERE. :c)

Re:The light's long gone! (1)

Karthikkito (970850) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080727)

Sort of a weird concept to understand, but -- look up the FRW metric on Wikipedia. Essentially, the expansion of the universe is really a changing metric of space time. As a previous poster noted, the big bang wasn't an explosion per se (except the pressures and temperatures were very high...) and it turns out that the big bang happened everywhere (from FRW). This means that we actually can see back to the big bang -- if we can get to wavelengths small enough. We can't see the very beginning simply because the universe was many orders of magnitude smaller than now and we don't have that sort of resolving power.

Also, note that the particle horizon -- how far we can actually see -- is 45 billion light years! Seems kind of weird, but comes out of FRW again.

offtopic: names: James / Webb / Hubble (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079711)

Its impossible for me to be reading on the World Wide Web about the James Webb space telescope to replace the Edwin Hubble 'scope without thinking about Webster Hubble from the Clinton years.

Is it mere coincidence that the Hubble 'scope was launched a few years before the Web was created, and here this guy named "Web Hubble" pops up in the public eye?

To Hubble... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079863)

is to screw-up so unbelievably badly, that it will take years and hundreds of millions of dollars to fix the problem. Let's hope they test the mirrors this time round.

sunshield? (4, Interesting)

Ignatius (6850) | more than 7 years ago | (#19079959)

Why does this need a sunshield at all? The article says that the telescope should be parked in the 2nd Lagrangian point L2, which is 1.5 Gm from the Earth and should be permanently shaded from sunlight. Isn't the whole point of sending something to L2 that it is not exposed to the sun? Also, how is the energy supply supposed to work? Anyone out there who can shed some light on these questions?

ignatius

Re:sunshield? (4, Informative)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080245)

Geometry.

  Earth only has 12000km diameter. Sun has 1.4 million km diameter.
For earth to give shade, it would have to be closer than AU*(r_earth/r_sun), which is much closer than the lagrange point.
Simply put: you would get a dark spot on the sun, but no complete cover.

Re:sunshield? (1)

Ed_1024 (744566) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080247)

Good question; that's what I thought when I saw the pic. Just off the top of my head, maybe at that range the disc of the earth doesn't cover enough angular area to fully eclipse the sun?

On a slightly different note, does anyone else think the design looks a bit unprotected? I mean, one bit of space dust (not Space Dust [retrosweets.co.uk] ) and bits of the mirror etc. are history...

Re:sunshield? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19080387)

There's very little you can do to protect against that sort of threat. You can try, but ultimately a pebble going at 10s of km/s (60km/s if it's going the "wrong way" around the Sun) is going to wreck anything, even if it's protected with lots of armor (a single gram object would have the same destructive energy on impact as an artillery shell). Luckily, space is pretty empty. Not just a little empty, but really, really, really empty. You have to go out of your way to find anything, even a pebble. In fact, low Earth orbit is packed with a much greater density of debris, so the vehicle will actually be safer, and last longer out at L2 than it would be in Earth orbit.

Re:sunshield? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19080295)

First, the Sun is larger than the Earth, there is no permanently shaded point at L2. Second, the telescope will not actually be parked at L2, it will be in a halo orbit around L2. Third, it would be rather silly to park a solar powered vehicle in the shade, doncha think?

Thus, the need for the sunshade.

The point of sending something to L2 is that it is still permanently close enough to Earth to make high bandwidth communications easy, while it is far enough from Earth to have an unobstructed view of nearly the entire sky. Additionally, L2 requires comparably mild propulsive resources to reach and to maintain position near.

Re:sunshield? (1)

Nyh (55741) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080417)

Why does this need a sunshield at all? The article says that the telescope should be parked in the 2nd Lagrangian point L2, which is 1.5 Gm from the Earth and should be permanently shaded from sunlight. Isn't the whole point of sending something to L2 that it is not exposed to the sun? Also, how is the energy supply supposed to work? Anyone out there who can shed some light on these questions?

L2 = 1.5e9 m
Sun - L2 = 151e9 m

r_Earth = 6.4e6 m

Maximum size sun for complete shading by earth:
r_max = 6.4e6 * 151e9 / 1.5e9 = 644e6 m

r_Sun = 700e6 m

No full shade at L2.

Even more important. The telescope won't be at L2 exactly but use an elliptic orbit around L2 with a major axis of 1.5e9 m and a minor axis of 374e6 m. So earth will not be in front of the sun all the time. http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/orbit.html [nasa.gov]

Nyh

Why not build two? (5, Insightful)

syncrotic (828809) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080013)

Something I've always wondered... how do the R&D costs compare to construction, testing, and launch of a satellite, or in this case, a space telescope? Wouldn't R&D be the hard part here, making the marginal cost of each additional spacecraft relatively small in comparison to the upfront cost?

It's my understanding that there's a substantial waiting list to use Hubble, and that a lot of very good research can't get done because telescope time is so limited. Time on JWST will probably be similarly limited... if we've spent $3.5B on this thing so far, why not put an extra $250M into it and get twice the benefit?

Any experts care to weigh in?

Re:Why not build two? (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080381)

While I'm not the expert you asked for, I'd say because as Congress is in every generation (Congress isn't to be confused with a presidential party) - stingy on the purse strings. They were reluctant as hell to approve funding on the mission(s) to repair the Hubble - thats *repair* not send up another, which I would assume would be cheaper. So if it was a miracle to get a repair mission authorized, why would they approve even more money to send 2 up when they would be just as fine with letting the Hubble die and not send up any kind of replacement, next-gen 'scope or using technology older than the Hubble...

Re:Why not build two? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19080457)

I'm not an expert but I'm guessing this happened/will happen:
1995 - NASA scientists: We want a new space telescope, plz plx plz???
2000 - NASA engineers: We have finished the design, it will cost $X.
2005 - NASA management: Sweet. Let's build it!
2010 - NASA project team: We need another $X to complete it (sorry...).
2011 - NASA management: Alright then, let's scrap some of our other projects. Here's ur $X. NOW DONT ASK FOR MORE!!!!11
2012 - NASA project team: We need another $X to really really complete and launch it. Come on! We can't give up now.
2013 - NASA management: That's it. The project is on hold. Actually it's more like, scrapped. Sorry guys!
2014 - NASA management: Our bad, it's foolish to not complete it after spending $2X already! Here's another $X. Better not ask for more tho!
2015 - NASA management: Launch it or lose it guys.
2015 - NASA project team: But it's not fully tested. And the new guys that we hired have used imperial units all over their code, we have to clean it up and re-run all test... :(
2016 - NASA management: Launch it NOW. And get the hell out of OUR workshop. We need to use it for other projects. And you're over budget again! Wrap it up ASAP before the politicians have to close all of NASA!! :(
2017 - The telescope launches and malfunctions.
2018 - NASA starts a robotic project to repair the telescope at a cost of $X.
2021 - The telescope becomes fully operational at a total cost of $5X.
2022 - NASA project team: Why don't we build another one using the same blueprints?
2022 - NASA managment: Yeaaah. Suuuure. Didn't you guys hear that we have unlimited funding? Why don't we build 10 telescopes! Or any nice round number.

Re:Why not build two? (0, Troll)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080685)

Why not build zero? That would save on cost.

By the way,... (3, Interesting)

TransEurope (889206) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080221)

...the telescope will be brought up by a Ariane-V Rocket
from French Guyana.
http://www.uibk.ac.at/ipoint/news/images/esa_pic_a riane_5.jpg [uibk.ac.at]

Truly pathetic! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19080583)

Bit funny that this new telescope will be launched by the French eh?

Despite the vast amounts of cash that the yanks have sunk into their space program it seems they cant even launch stuff into orbit!!! LOL!!!

Ok, so they did get a man on the moon b4 anyone else...lets not forget that eh!

And don't forget the space shuttle, that has streamlined the process of...launching satel...no wait, hear me out...

Re:By the way,... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19080783)

This sucks!!! Big Time!!!

We are the God-given masters of the World (and Space!). It says so in all our comic books. I say we bomb the hell out of French Guyana immediately.

Surely the tinpot dictator over there is part of the Axis of Evil (tm)? Or has a project for WMD which can be set off at 45 mins notice? Or at least as much of one as Iraq had?

Besides, the US has copyright on all of space. Can we do them under the DCMA?

 

Tell me I'm being dumb (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080225)

The telescope will orbit at a distance of 1.5m km - is that true? That puts it outside the orbit of the Moon does it not? About four times as far in fact? Wow, so this thing isn't designed to be serviced then. (wiki says Moon's apogee is 400,000km.

Re:Tell me I'm being dumb (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080663)

I actually missed the "million" in the summary and for a minute I was thinking "the moon is only .375 km from earth? That seems really close - like I could walk there -- if I could walk straight up."

What's in a name? (2, Insightful)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080449)

The last fancy telescope was named after an astrophysicist who made a significant contribution to our understanding of the universe, using the red shift to prove that the universe is indeed expanding, now commonly known as Hubble's law. The new telescope is named after an administrator. An important job, and done very well by the sounds of it, but it's not super-science. Am I the only one who sees the difference between running an agency and advancing the body of scientific knowledge? In 100 years time (heck, even today) who's name will we know?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Hubble [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Edwin_Webb [wikipedia.org]

18 foot composite mirror (1)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 7 years ago | (#19080789)

Sweet... 18 feet of desktop wallpaper-enhancing power! It would be great if it had a self-repairing mirror with a few extra panels installed, in case of close encounter with space dust at 18,000 miles per hour.
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