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NASA Space Science

NASA Considers Sending Telescope To the Outer Solar System 152

Nancy_A writes "A mission that astronomers and cosmologists have only dreamed about — until now. A team at JPL and Caltech has been looking into the possibility of hitching an optical telescope to a survey spacecraft on a mission to the outer solar system. Light pollution in our inner solar system, from both the nearby glow of the Sun and the hazy zodiacal glow from dust ground up in the asteroid belt, has long stymied cosmologists looking for a clearer take on the early Universe."
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NASA Considers Sending Telescope To the Outer Solar System

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  • Upwards? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @06:07AM (#38432226)

    Why couldn't they just send one upwards out of the plane of the solar system? Wouldn't that be quicker?

  • Re:Upwards? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @06:34AM (#38432344)

    Yes, but it's possibly worth bearing in mind that the telescope leaves earth with significant velocity in the plane, at a tangent to Earth's orbit. To send it "up" (i.e., at a normal to the Earth's orbital plane) you would need to shed that significant velocity, and even then it would be just going "up" in a straight line; it wouldn't be in an orbit around the sun or anything.

    Of course, for getting "a clearer view much quicker" such a trajectory may be sufficient, but I'd be interested if anyone knowledgeable could comment on the practicalities of sending something in that direction with a sufficiently useful velocity (whether sufficiently useful means to escape the sun's gravity well, or merely to reach a useful "height" fast enough, and stay there long enough before being dragged back in towards the sun).

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @06:58AM (#38432434)

    Maybe the smart thing to do is have the 'scope do the data processing for us. In astronomy there's a lot of preprocessing from a large volume of redundant data to a small volume of high-value data, why not have a telescope that's got the intelligence (constantly updated and amended from Earth) to do some of that work before transmission.

Love may laugh at locksmiths, but he has a profound respect for money bags. -- Sidney Paternoster, "The Folly of the Wise"