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NASA Space Technology

The Camera That Changed the Universe 76

StartsWithABang writes As the Hubble Space Telescope gets set to celebrate the 25th anniversary of opening its eyes to the Universe, it's important to realize that the first four years of operations were kind of a disaster. It wasn't until they corrected the flawed primary mirror and installed an upgraded camera — the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) — that the Universe truly came into focus. From 1993 to 2009, this workhorse camera literally changed our view of the Universe, and we're pushing even past those limits today.
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The Camera That Changed the Universe

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  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @08:18PM (#48880957)
    The Universe's state was only determined when we observed it.
  • by UnderCoverPenguin ( 1001627 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @08:22PM (#48880981)

    Despite the slight change in the curvature of the main mirror, Hubble's images were pretty amazing. It was the press and the politicians that called it a disaster. Fortunately, that didn't prevent NASA from sending a crew to install corrective optics and a better camera.

    • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Friday January 23, 2015 @12:45AM (#48882117) Journal
      I recall reading about the mirror when it was being made, the precision with which it was polished was mind bogglingly accurate, if it was the size of Australia the largest deviation from perfectly smooth would be less than a millimetre. The problem was the shape (which changes slightly when put in zero-g), an extra shim in the framework that held the glass while it was cut was found to be the cause of the problem.

      Cannot fathom why your post id marked redundant, OT maybe, but redundant?
      • A similar thing happened to another ground-based telescope, I believe it was the Discovery Channel Telescope. They grounded and polished an extremely precise reflective surface...around the wrong axis. ;-) So they just adjusted the mount.
      • by necro81 ( 917438 )

        I recall reading about the mirror when it was being made, the precision with which it was polished was mind bogglingly accurate

        Be careful how you use the terms "precision" and "accuracy," because they have very specific meanings [google.com] to engineers and metrologists. Yes, the precision was mind-boggling. The accuracy, on the other hand, well...

    • by necro81 ( 917438 )

      Despite the slight change in the curvature of the main mirror, Hubble's images were pretty amazing

      Amazing maybe, but far below what was promised. There isn't any way to gloss over the fact that the project managed to screw up the single most important component in the telescope. The mirror ended flawed and in orbit not because it was too technically challenging, but because of arrogance, sloppiness, and poor oversight. The taxpayers have a right - even today - to be pretty steamed about it.

      Imagine i

      • Not to mention good old politics in the bid-award process. A certain other corporation based in a certain town in upstate NY had build plenty of telescopes, same size, for orbit-based use, but because Security dammit!! and some cronyism on the side Hughes Optical got the contract. And screwed it up in an attempt to save cost.

  • Discovery (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @08:27PM (#48881015)

    The Hubble Space Telescope made us realize that space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.

  • One of many (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quenda ( 644621 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @08:32PM (#48881061)

    It is a little sad that while at least seventeen of these giant telescopes have been launched by the US alone, only one has ever looked up.

    • But first, let me take a #selfie!
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Thursday January 22, 2015 @08:35PM (#48881085) Journal
    I get the quantum mechanics principle, the mere act of observing changes the observed, that you can't measure the momentum or the position without affecting the other. But, just put a telescope in the orbit and it changed the universe? ... come on guys, there should be some limits even on hyperbole.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I get the quantum mechanics principle, the mere act of observing changes the observed, that you can't measure the momentum or the position without affecting the other. But, just put a telescope in the orbit and it changed the universe? ... come on guys, there should be some limits even on hyperbole.

      I change the universe all the time. Of course, most of it will never be affected by those changes, but changes they are.

    • Actually, everything was fine until you made an observation about the observation.
      The universe is doomed now.
      What have you done????

      • Your observation about my observation of the telescope's observation stopped the doomsday clock! Hallelujah!! Hope no body follows up to this comment, lest it doom the universe again.
  • The camera only changed the universe if we are in a simulation with lazy evaluation (things are extrapolated and created to be as they should exist when we look at them) or or if something like quantum superposition applies on a macro-level (the observed matter's state is changed based on our observation of it).

    The camera didn't change the universe, it changed the *known* universe--made us a little less ignorant. For millenia mankind expanded its knowledge of places by travelling to them. That has now bec

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      You are complaining about the headline, but didn't even read the summary?

      For fuck's sake, please just tell your ISP that you are too stupid to afford their services.

      Headlines are atrocious here, and summaries slightly less so. But the summary does not suck as much donkey cock as your reply does. I hope you are a hermaphrodite, because you really need to go fuck yourself.

    • I see most replies are critical that you didn't read the original article. (Maybe they don't get the 'lazy evaluation' part if they've never dabbled in functional programming.) Maybe they don't know about the actually rather serious philosophical speculations that our universe may be a simulation. Anyway, I for one thought it was clever.

      • Maybe they don't get the 'lazy evaluation' part if they've never dabbled in functional programming

        "Lazy evaluation" is an optimization technique for evaluating Boolean expressions, I've never heard of a programming language that doesn't use it by default

  • Is a good clean view and commentary on Abell 1689, the place where any comments on gravitational lenses should end up.

    http://hubblesite.org/gallery/... [hubblesite.org]
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday January 23, 2015 @12:53AM (#48882153)

    A photographer was given broad access across all of NASA years before the mission launched to fix the Hubble, and he put together an book of amazing photos and stories behind the mission:

    Infinie Worlds by Michael Soluri [amazon.com]. They have a hardcover and a Kindle version, not sure how the pictures would come out in the Kindle version but the hardcover is pretty large and the photos look great.

  • My all-time favorite Hubble pic: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap03... [nasa.gov]

  • Thank you for making Elite: Dangerous possible.
  • im not sure ,what about u http://allthatwebstuff.blogspo... [blogspot.com]

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