by Michael Ho

Filed Under:
astronomy, nro, nustar, starshade, telescopes


DailyDirt: Cool Telescopes

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The Hubble space telescope isn't the only piece of equipment above our planet that can look deep into the universe at the direction of astronomers, but it's certainly the most famous. The next telescope that's expected to be as well-known as the Hubble is the James Webb Space Telescope, but it's not scheduled to launch until 2018. Here are just a few more telescopes that could be hovering above us and keeping astronomers busy. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Nov 2012 @ 5:59pm

    how does the starshade work?!

    sounds like the telescope is on the ground, and the blimp is being used to block out certain light sources?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Nov 2012 @ 4:50am

      Re: how does the starshade work?!

      Watch the Futurama episode "A big piece of garbage", they use one to reduce global warming.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Violated (profile), 28 Nov 2012 @ 7:37pm

    NRO vs. NASA

    I cannot see those two NRO satellites as major gifts when on the technology level these are like Hubble+ systems. This was good technology for the 90s but on the technology front both the NRO and NASA have long moved on.

    What we can bet is that the NRO had a fleet of these Hubble+ satellites launching during the 90s and 00s where they could well be many in orbit now.

    We can also rest assured that this is old technology to the NRO and they already have better satellites already in production and a couple in orbit. On the technology front you are talking Webb class systems. So while NASA workers muck around with their JWST the NRO are already laughing at them with their "look what I got".

    The NRO have about the same sized budget as NASA and while NASA spent a fortune of the Shuttle, the ISS and to diversify funds between lots of science projects then the NRO is better focused to knock out an entire fleet of spy satellites. So these Hubble+ systems are the end units of the military class production line that have simply been hanging around too long before they became obsolete. If not for NASA these two may have been chopped up and tossed in the bin.

    What to do with them then I am sure the NRO have already cut out the cool stuff like the missiles and lazer defense system. Well it is certainly the main mirrors have NASA has most use for and the NRO has 3 of them spare.

    These NASA workers are joking though if they will take these satellites worth $250 million each and spend $1.6 billion to make use of just the first. They should well remember why NASA did not fund their WFIRST project due to the high cost and questionable science return. So these degree class jokers now think the NASA administrator would spend even more on the same project? Get real.

    Had I been the head of NASA I would say you jokers have a $500 million budget to turn one of these satellites into something we can use and let me worry about the extra cost to launch it. Around 2018 there would be many lower cost launch options. Then if they moan about the $500 million point out the NRO have already spent $250 million making a fully functional satellite and you can't spend twice that simply to upgrade it?

    NASA these days have too much to do and an ever decreasing budget to do it within. The bloated JWST on its own eats up almost all of the science budget for satellites. So any project NASA does between now and 2020 has to be very cost efficient with good science return.

    In that regard it is nice for the NRO to gift wrap two Hubble+ systems during their hard time but NASA still need to find a cost efficient use for them. It is a shame though NASA sent along a dreamer still dreaming of his WFIRST and desired Noble.

    Well it is sad when I am sure many of us wish the NRO were reassigned to be NASA satellite builders and their goal was changed to look outwards instead of inwards. Like a whole fleet of Kepler satellites would be very popular. No chance there of course but maybe in 10 or 15 years time the NRO may gift wrap NASA one or two of their Webb+ satellites.

    To finish up then I find it funny the NRO would ban NASA to point these at Earth. There is nothing in the NASA mandate banning them peering at Earth and even people should they have some scientifically valid reason to do so. I guess that is an NRO "Don't touch our stuff" warning.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Violated (profile), 28 Nov 2012 @ 9:07pm

      Re: NRO vs. NASA

      I had a quick check on latest news and as expected NASA did think the WFIRST plan as crazy pointing out no big project like that will begin until 2018.

      So it seems NASA still seeks some mission for one these and their problem is thanks to JWST their astrophysics budget has no funds spare. Even now NASA go loopy and think maybe one other section of NASA has the spare budget and desire.

      What I think is true is that NASA needs some outside help and most importantly cash input. So maybe over at ESA they can come up with a plan and desire. Three super high quality 2.4 meter main mirrors better than Hubble is something no space scientist or technician can ignore. To turn this fully into an international project is best to spread the budget pain and you never know when Congress may even squeeze out a little more to put expensive hardware into use.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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