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NASA Space Science

NASA Unveils Hubble's Successor 188

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the new-and-improved dept.
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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NASA Unveils Hubble's Successor

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  • Keeping Hubble (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Friday May 11, 2007 @12:21AM (#19078929) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Gaia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vincnetas (943756) on Friday May 11, 2007 @12:55AM (#19079127) Homepage
    I think Gaia probe [] is more interesting, and it is planned to be launched in 2011 not in 2013 as JWST
  • Six years? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday May 11, 2007 @01:16AM (#19079263)
    Can they actually do this in six years?
  • Re:Keeping Hubble (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pecosdave (536896) on Friday May 11, 2007 @01:39AM (#19079367) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by pecosdave (536896) on Friday May 11, 2007 @01:47AM (#19079417) Homepage Journal
    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:Haha (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:38AM (#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 [] or anything.
  • by cnettel (836611) on Friday May 11, 2007 @02:39AM (#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:Keeping Hubble (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NanoGradStudent (878951) on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:37AM (#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.
  • sunshield? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ignatius (6850) on Friday May 11, 2007 @03:51AM (#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?

  • By the way,... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TransEurope (889206) <eniac@u n i - k o b l e> on Friday May 11, 2007 @04:44AM (#19080221)
    ...the telescope will be brought up by a Ariane-V Rocket
    from French Guyana. riane_5.jpg []
  • Re:Keeping Hubble (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Friday May 11, 2007 @06:24AM (#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.
  • In addition to what the poster above me says about the atmosphere and spectrum of light, I'd like to point out...

    $5 Billion dollars DOES seem like a lot. But look at the U.S. Budget in the last decade. Look at the money we've essentially THROWN AWAY. By comparison, $5 billion for an advancement of science seems rather reasonable, or at the very least, reasonable by comparison.
  • by yourlord (473099) on Friday May 11, 2007 @10:21AM (#19082517) Homepage
    Because the moon orbits the Earth and therefore can't focus on a single point in space for long periods due to the Earth obscuring the view (a fault with the Hubble as well). The JWST can gather light from a single point, uninterrupted, for months if desired. There are other reasons as well, but this one alone is enough of a deal killer.
  • by cplusplus (782679) on Friday May 11, 2007 @04:32PM (#19089649) Journal
    The average cost of each war the US engages in ends up being around $600 billion (after adjusting each one for inflation). We'll just have to complete the next war in 119/120ths of the time and the cost of the new telescope is covered :)

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