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NASA Space Science

NASA Ponders What To Do With a Pair of Free Space Telescopes 97

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the scientists-use-mirror-to-incinerate-kremlin dept.
scibri writes "A few months ago, the secretive National Reconnaissance Office gave NASA two Hubble-sized space telescopes that it didn't want anymore. Now the space agency has to figure out what to do with them, and whether it can afford it. The leading candidate to use one of the telescopes is the the proposed Wide-Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST), which would search for the imprint of dark energy, find exoplanets and study star-forming regions of the Galaxy. The NRO telescope could speed up the mission, but may end up costing more in the long run." A few issues with re-purposing the NRO satellite: higher launch costs because it's bigger, it can't see as far or as much IR (but it can see fainter objects, and could be used in planet detection), and the need for a bigger camera.
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NASA Ponders What To Do With a Pair of Free Space Telescopes

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  • Obligatory XKCD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scorp1us (235526) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @12:25PM (#41539545) Journal

    Depth Perception [xkcd.com]

    Binocular galactic vision!

  • by Strider- (39683) on Wednesday October 03, 2012 @12:53PM (#41539941)

    Space based telescopes also have one other important advantage over their earth-bound siblings, namely the ability to image a target for extremely long periods of time. Except for the polar regions, telescopes on earth realistically only have 4 to 6 hours of useable imaging time per night. The rest of the time is spent waiting for it to get dark. A telescope in orbit, on the other hand, can stay pointed on a target for days, weeks or months at a time.

    Canada's "Humble" space telescope (MOST), for example, stared at a patch of the sky for 5 years straight. Its mission is to continually watch a group of stars, watching for subtle variations in their brightness which could a) indicate the transit of extra-solar planets and b) help determine the composition of these stars.

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