Saturday, January 22

Enjoy Hubble While it Lasts

While not exactly news to those paying attention, the Hubble Space telescope, one of man's finest technological achievments, will likely be allowed to die on the vine. The current suspension of the Shuttle program in the wake of the Columbia Tragedy is one small reason, the contempt for science demonstrated by this administration fills the balance.
Astronomers Surprised by White House Plan to Scuttle Hubble
By Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer
posted: 21 January 2005
03:36 pm ET

The prospect of the White House cutting off funding for any possible mission to service and save the Hubble Space Telescope caught the astronomy community largely by surprise Friday.

Scientists who have studied Hubble's science value and the safety and practicality of servicing missions have concluded it is well worth saving. Congressional hearings in coming weeks were expected to discuss the options to extend Hubble's life.

Many astronomers deem such a mission crucial to the ongoing work of studying the origin and evolution of the universe, while some analysts view the $1 billion or more mission as too costly to be practical.
Yup, can't have any pile of cash that large funnelled into a project where it can't be looted under cover of "the Fog of War", plus that origin of the universe stuff is anathema to the fundimentalist mindset (link via Atrios).
In a Space News story Friday, sources said the White House will direct NASA to drop plans for any servicing and instead mount a mission that would safely de-orbit the telescope. Hubble, expected to run out of batteries or lose its ability to point properly in the next 2-4 years, will be scuttled into the ocean under that plan.

"Great loss for science"

Holland Ford, a Johns Hopkins University astronomer who helped build the newest camera on Hubble, was surprised. "I sure hope it's wrong," he said of the news story.

"It means that a lot of excellent science that could be done will not be done," Ford said in a telephone interview Friday. "It will be a great loss for science. It will also be a great loss for the way in which Hubble communicates science through images to people all around the world."

Hope is not lost, however, because any final decision on the 2006 NASA budget will rest with Congress.
Hubble and those of us among its legion of fans should not hold our breath, smart money should be placed on an accellerated de orbit burn. For as long as she remains with us, and after her demise we will still have HubbleSite a vast repository of Hubble Porn. For those with an interest in the study of Astronomy from a Biblical perspective feel free to visit Geocentricity