Damn the man!
January 29, 2004 6:00 AM   Subscribe

Save the Hubble! I know, I know, it's an internet petition... but it's to save the Hubble Telescope! That's worth a minute out of your day.
posted by Hugh2d2 (10 comments total)
This joins the long illustrious list of Internet petitions that have worked in the past.
posted by madman at 6:22 AM on January 29, 2004

As much as I, and many other people appreciate the Hubble, and think it should be preserved, I smell rats here.

The 1st rule of Bureaucracy: When budget cuts loom, threaten to cut the meat and leave the fat.

Even NASA admitted that the Hubble and Hubble related support missions are less than 1% of its budget.

BTW, some of the other rules:

2nd: Statistics always require budget increases.

3rd: Anyone who wants to change a process won't be around long enough to see if the change works.
posted by kablam at 6:35 AM on January 29, 2004

kablam: You aren't too far off. From a Washington Post article in today's paper:

"After finishing work on the international space station, NASA plans to retire its shuttles as the space agency turns to President Bush's plan to refocus its mission to sending humans back to the moon and then to Mars."

These's no money for the science that is currently working. There are much more important, expensive boondoggles that give contracts to campaign contributors to think about after all.
posted by terrapin at 8:59 AM on January 29, 2004

An article in today's Guardian presenting the argument that the hubble has had its day and ground based telescopes can now get better results.
posted by biffa at 9:12 AM on January 29, 2004

Re. Biffa's link, adaptive optics is great, and it allows telescopes on the ground to take full advantage of their larger size (which cannot be replicated in orbit, at least not yet-- Imagine launching even a ten meter mirror), but there are still wavelengths that get blocked by our atmosphere.
posted by Nothing at 9:21 AM on January 29, 2004

This, which I originally found from rc3.org for an interesting look into the reasoning that was the final nail in HST's coffin. It's a good read and I'm amazed it came down to the nay from one man.

Ground based telescopes will soon be better than Hubble through adaptive optics (I think there's an article in this months Scientific American) because there are aperature limits to space based telescopes. If you can't fit them in the cargo bay of a rocket then you can't deploy them.

There are still reasons why the HST is better under some circumstances though. Regardless of the spin it's still a loss.
posted by substrate at 9:25 AM on January 29, 2004

I think the obvious question is does the expense of fixing the hubble outweigh the disadvantage of not having a space telescope for two years or so. (You folks do realize there is a replacement in the pipeline, and the time period we're talking about being without the hubble and not having the new one is only a couple years). I honestly don't know the answer to this question.
posted by piper28 at 12:04 PM on January 29, 2004

This just in:

O'Keefe has agreed to review the decision to cancel the servicing mission. There's going to be a committee, headed by Admiral Hal Gehman (who was also in charge of the committee that investigated the Columbia accident), responsible for the review. I think it's important to note that the rationale for the cancellation of the servicing mission was never budgetary. According to NASA, it's a safety issue: future shuttle missions should be able to dock at the ISS in case of trouble. It's impossible for a shuttle in orbit with the Hubble to reach the ISS, apparently. Gehman's appointment to head the review committee is consistent with this focus on safety.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:30 PM on January 29, 2004

Back before the crash, there was idle talk of refitting Columbia as an automated orbiter, with one possible mission being the dangerous one of putting Hubble in the cargo bay and returning it to earth.

Another ultimate irony is that shuttle will now only do ISS flights, which have an extreme profile due to the altitude, inclination, and direction of orbit -- all of which were pretty much required by adding Russian participation, due to the limitations of Russian launch capability mainly at Baikonur (which isn't even in Russia anymore -- it's in Kazakstan). The ISS launches -- especially with station components -- place extra stress on the orbiters and are infamously limited to a few-minutes' window each day (and now, post-CAIB, they apparently won't even do the night flights, reducing options even more).

It's all a sad end for what was designed as an enormously versatile vehicle.
posted by dhartung at 10:41 PM on January 29, 2004

There's no money for the science that is currently working.

Hendrik Hertzberg says something similar in The New Yorker this week:
”Another couple of billion is to be cannibalized out of the existing space budget. This kind of money will get no one to Mars, but that isn’t to say that Bush’s project will yield no results. It has already led to the cancellation of maintenance on the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s most scientifically valuable project, which means that the Hubble will go blind in three or four years’ time. Bush’s 'New Vision' is a sharp stick in the eye.”
posted by LeLiLo at 7:33 AM on January 30, 2004

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