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Thread: Was the Hubble Telecope worth it and what will replace it?

  1. #1

    Was the Hubble Telecope worth it and what will replace it?

    The Hubble Space Telescope was launched on April 24, 1900. NASA recently recently celebrated the 17th birthday of this satellite telescope. I remember being opposed to this telescope when it was launched, saying that it is just too expensive. Later on, when it was apparently that there were errors in the mirror that needed to be fixed and several expensive trips were undertaken to repair the scope, I felt a little smug. The upgrade resulted in a stunning improvement in the quality of the images.


    After 17 years, I want to admit that I was wrong. The Hubble was more than worthwhile. Its value to the scientific community was clear when NASA tried to stop servicing the scope and the entire astronomical community arose in arms. The impact of Hubble has been enormous. Over 4,000 peer review articles were published with data obtained from the Hubble. It not only brought us a much clearer picture of the universe but the data collected have resulted in much more accurate prediction of the rate at which the universe is expanding and consequently the age of the universe. At the same time, the data suggest an unexpected finding, that the expansion of the universe appears to be accelerating. Data from the Hubble consolidated the theories concerning black holes in nearby galaxies and provided the convincing data for the presence of extra-solar planets around sun-like stars.

    The new James Webb Space Telescope will have a much greater collected area of 25 square meters (compared 4.2 square meters). It will observe in the infrared wavelenth. The mirror will be made of beryllium, one of the lightest of known metals. It will be operated by NASA and launched in June 2013. Its scientific mission will be to search for light from the first stars and galaxies which formed in the Universe after the Big Bang, to study the formation and evolution of galaxies, to understand the formation of stars and planetary systems, to study the origins of life. In order to observe in the infra-red zone, the observatory must be maintained very cold (50K), shielded from the sun (with a large metalized fanshold umbrella that will unfurl to block infrared radation from the sun, the earth, and the moon. Finally, it will be sent 1.5 million kilometers from the earth, to the L2 Langrangian point and remain stationary there with respect to the earth.

    You know, there are just some things that are worth it. You can't measure the value of knowledge.



    http://michaelgr.com/2007/05/20/the-...ace-telescope/
    Last edited by Wise Young; 05-25-2007 at 11:42 PM. Reason: grammer and typos

  2. #2
    Senior Member Mike C's Avatar
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    The only thing I´m worried about is if the Webb telescope needs to be repaired. I hope NASA has a capable and reliable manned space transportation system up and operational by then. Currently, the future NASA plan is called the Constellation Program.

    Based on an upgraded Apollo concept, the Orion capsule, boosted into space on the Ares series of launch vehicles, is supposed to start operations at the optimistic date of 2014. The Webb telescope should be finished well before Orion is fully operational. Lets hope there won´t be any gremlins that may effect the Webb scope like Hubble had to deal with. It may take a very long time until a repair/service mission can be launched. An Orion capsule launched on an Ares I launcher is capable of reaching low-earth orbit. It is not capable of flying out to L2 and busting out the toolbox. That can only be achieved with the Ares V launcher. It is not currently known if both launch systems will be available at the same time to handle a broad spectrum of transport requirements. Current cost estimates for the Orion and Ares systems is $16 billion.

    Lets hope the Webb works from the get go with the same kind of incredible reliability that Spirit and Opportunity has amazed us with. Most of NASAs probes have preformed very well indeed. The biggest threat will be budgetary of course. http://www.aip.org/fyi/2007/037.html
    Last edited by Mike C; 05-25-2007 at 09:06 AM.
    "So I have stayed as I am, without regret, seperated from the normal human condition." Guy Sajer

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young
    But now, after 17 years, I want to admit that I was wrong. The Hubble was more than worthwhile.
    On behalf of my employer, Ball Aerospace, I thank you!

    (Ball Aerospace built most of the Hubble instruments, including the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement, the Advanced Camera for Surveys, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and Wide Field Camera 3. We're currently working on a pathfinder for the primary JWST mirror, as well as building the bus for Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer, which will help JWST identify which objects to explore.)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike C
    The only thing I´m worried about is if the Webb telescope needs to be repaired. I hope NASA has a capable and reliable manned space transportation system up and operational by then. Currently, the future NASA plan is called the Constellation Program.

    Based on an upgraded Apollo concept, the Orion capsule, boosted into space on the Ares series of launch vehicles, is supposed to start operations at the optimistic date of 2014. The Webb telescope should be finished well before Orion is fully operational. Lets hope there won´t be any gremlins that may effect the Webb scope like Hubble had to deal with. It may take a very long time until a repair/service mission can be launched. An Orion capsule launched on an Ares I launcher is capable of reaching low-earth orbit. It is not capable of flying out to L2 and busting out the toolbox. That can only be achieved with the Ares V launcher. It is not currently known if both launch systems will be available at the same time to handle a broad spectrum of transport requirements. Current cost estimates for the Orion and Ares systems is $16 billion.

    Lets hope the Webb works from the get go with the same kind of incredible reliability that Spirit and Opportunity has amazed us with. Most of NASAs probes have preformed very well indeed. The biggest threat will be budgetary of course. http://www.aip.org/fyi/2007/037.html
    The amazing thing is that so many of these projects have worked and worked marvelously well, collecting data that have transformed our view and understanding of the world. I wish that we could have similar funding for projects to cure spinal cord injury.

    Wise.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Katja
    On behalf of my employer, Ball Aerospace, I thank you!

    (Ball Aerospace built most of the Hubble instruments, including the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement, the Advanced Camera for Surveys, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and Wide Field Camera 3. We're currently working on a pathfinder for the primary JWST mirror, as well as building the bus for Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer, which will help JWST identify which objects to explore.)
    Katja, you are of course very welcome. I just wanted to get the guilt off my chest. I think Hubble is great and thank Ball Aerospace for its contribution. Wise.

  6. #6
    The Hubble telescope has provided a wealth of information, truly astounding. Also a wealth of inspiration, with its detailed display of the beauty of the universe. I'm not sure which is the most important.
    In 1980 or 81 I was offered a job with Lockheed, to be their scientific liaison with NASA for the Hubble. I turned it down - I'm not a telephone person, and didn't really want to live in Palo Alto; on the whole, I think I made the right decision.
    It's interesting that Ball Aerospace started out with the Ball brothers making canning jars - they still do. We worked with Ball when they made the attitude control system for one of our rocket experiments (x-ray polarimetry of a solar flare).
    - Richard

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young
    I just wanted to get the guilt off my chest.
    I think you should consider yourself absolved.

    You mentioned the comparison with SCI research; the funding for scientific unmanned space exploration, which has paid such handsome dividends, has been drastically cut recently as the money has shifted back to manned exploration.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Katja
    I think you should consider yourself absolved.

    You mentioned the comparison with SCI research; the funding for scientific unmanned space exploration, which has paid such handsome dividends, has been drastically cut recently as the money has shifted back to manned exploration.
    Yes, I know. In my opinion, this administration has been a blight on science in the United States. With science R & D expenditures being less than 1% of the budget and less than 10% of the military budget (excluding Iraq), the priorities of this nation have become topsy turvy. The 2007 DOD budget (excluding the supplemental for Iraq) is $439.3 billion (Source).
    Budget for 2007 [3]

    The military expenditure of the United States Department of Defense for fiscal year 2007 is:
    Total Funding $439.3 Billion +6.9%
    Operations and maintenance $152.2 Bil. +6.6%
    Military Personnel $110.8 Bil. +3.7%
    Procurement $84.2 Bil. +10.5%
    Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation $73.2 Bil. +3.1%
    Military Construction $12.6 Bil. +57.5%
    Family Housing $4.1 Bil. +2.5%
    Working Capital Funds $2.4 Bil. +9.1%

    Further, the Department of Energy will spend an additional $23.4 Bil. during FY'07 for the development, maintenance and production of nuclear warheads. [4]
    According to the Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF) that did an analysis of the Security budget of the United States, over $62 billion is being spent on weapon systems that are irrelevant to the threats that we face (Source).

    In the biomedical field, the Bush administration is spending $5 billion per year on bioterrorism. Although the current figures are not available, in 2005, the Bush administration spent (Source):
    • $1.3 billion on hospital preparedness
    • $274 million on research to improve the Biowatch program which conducts biosurveillance for airborne pathogens and sensors to detect contaminats in large gatherings such as sport events, and
    • $2.5 billion on Project Bioshield, an initiative aimed at dveloping and purchasing medical countermeasures, such as vaccines for anthrax and smallpox.

    There is little evidence that this amount of funding is doing much to improve the security of this country. An ill-considered (in my opinion) program to inoculate healthcare workers against smallpox failed to meet its targets. While all this money is being spent on Project BioShield, concerns about manufacturer liability and vaccine safety have stymied progress.

    A January 2004 Institute of Medicine report was highly critical of the DOD's efforts to develop the new vaccines, noting that the DOD had acquired no new vaccines since the Gulf War despite huge expenditures. It is not clear that the Department of Homeland Security has the expertise or capability to manage these programs.

    The Health and Human Services budget for 2007 was $698 billion. It included
    $4.4 billion for bioterrorism-related spending and $2.6 billion for pandemic planning. Funding for Social Services Block Grant programs (which support state funding of spinal cord injury care, for example) was cut by $500 million and other health programs were cut (Source).

    Here are some of the database programs alone that are being funded in 2007. Their effectiveness is unknown and yet we are throwing millions of dollars at these programs. Note that the following is just for the IT component of the programs (Source).
    • BioSense: "a national syndromic surveillance program, in which the CDC monitors emergency room information, drug sales, doctors’ office reports and other data from around the country on a continuous basis. The goal is to watch for blips in fevers, severe coughs and other markers that could provide early warnings of a bioterrorism attack or public health crisis. Its funding would be $47.5 million in 2007, from $49.5 million this year."
    • National Electronic Disease Surveillance System: $11.2 million
    • Vaccine ordering database $6.2 million
    • Vaccine availability database $4.7 million
    • Research lab information sharing $4.7 million
    • CDC Secure Data Network $2.9 million
    • Emergency operations center support $2.4 million
    • Health Alert Network $500,000.

    All these funds are being spent on bioterrorism while the the overall budget is being cut. For example, the 2007 budget cut more than 4% of 2006 CDC programs and nearly 8% compared to 2005 CDC programs. (Source). Of course NIH budget has been flatlined for nearly 4 years, which means a 3-4% cut every year due to inflation. As if that is not enough, they are diverting billions of NIH funds for bioterrorism research.

    The cuts in the programs are also not in keeping with America's priorities. For example, the Trust for America's Health polled American anxieties about health problems. Cancer continues to be the number one concern with 26% indicating that it was their top health concern. Heart disease ranks second with 15%, and obesity is third with 14%. Despite these concerns, the 2007 budget cut programs aiming to prevent cancer, heart disease, and diabetes (part of the obesity problem). And, of course, if we were to lump all the orphan diseases (such as spinal cord injury together), we would be a pretty big group and we are being cut.

    Regarding manned spaceflights, the Republicans are pushing those programs while blaming Democrats. For example, Representative Dave Weldon (of the anti-ESC fame) recently criticized the Democratic leadership for failing to allow a vote on an amendment he proposed would have kept Congress from raiding NASA's budget to funda 35% increase for the National Science Foundation. "It is increasingly clear that Democratic leaders have our manned space program in their crosshairs," he said. (Source).

    According to the above article, earlier in the year, the Democrats proposed an astounding 40% ($2 billion) increase for the NSF this year. The Democrats had cut half a billion from NASA funding. Weldon joined a bipartisan group of 17 lawmakers in calling for a a summit with the Bush Administration to discuss the space progam funding. At the same time, the Subcommittee on Space and Aeuronautics was told by a panel of expert witnesses that there is currently insufficient funding to support many space science missions at NASA.

    Subcommittee Chair Ken Calvert (R-CA) supports a funding increase of NASA to $18.7 billion, the authorized amount in FY2008. He said, "Everyone in this room understands that severe budget challenges are confronting NASA in its science missions, as well as its manned spaceflight and aeronautics research programs, forcing the agency to remove future budget growth from the science mission directorate in order to address more pressing needs." The lawmakers are aware that NASA science missions are at historically high 32% of the agency's overall budget. Many members of Congress have repeatedly called for a more balanced program of science, exploration, and aeronautics at NASA.

    Wise.

  9. #9
    The Hubble telescope has been more than worth it.
    No one ever became unsuccessful by helping others out

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