Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Hubble's Deepest Pictures Yet 416

MrBook2 writes "NASA have just released the Ultra Deep Field (UDF). This image took 800 exposures and clocked in at 11.3 days (!) of exposure time. This image is deeper than the Hubble Deep Field which has yielded a vast amount of knowledge. So, why exactly was it that NASA wanted to scrap the Hubble?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Hubble's Deepest Pictures Yet

Comments Filter:
  • Why scrap Hubble (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scumbucket ( 680352 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:01AM (#8510256)
    Because NASA says that it costs too much to maintain, and it's getting close to its estimated end of life date.

    • Re:Why scrap Hubble (Score:5, Informative)

      by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:21AM (#8510359) Homepage Journal
      Actually, a congressman from Colorado is trying to get a commitee together to determine the fate of the Hubble, so the decision is not solely on the director of NASA. This could mean life for the Hubble.

      I submitted the 'save the hubble' story [yahoo.com] a couple days ago and was turned down.
      • Re:Why scrap Hubble (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tackhead ( 54550 )
        > Actually, a congressman from Colorado is trying to get a commitee together to determine the fate of the Hubble, so the decision is not solely on the director of NASA. This could mean life for the Hubble.

        Why must Hubble die? It's producing too much science, and not consuming enough pork dollars.

        End of story. Hubble will die, we'll build a reusable shuttle that still can't go beyond low earth orbit, we'll spend tens of billions turning the existing shuttles into unmanned cargo lifters inferior t

        • I don't understand why everyone is getting so bent. The year after they lower Hubble into a firey grave they are planning on launching a replacement observatory that is supposed be considerably more powerfull. Sure it was the first to show us deep space but it is after all expendable and was never planned on being used for a few years anyway.
      • Actually, a congressman from Colorado is trying to get a commitee together to determine the fate of the Hubble, so the decision is not solely on the director of NASA. This could mean life for the Hubble.

        Senator Barbara Mikulski is also leading some efforts in the Senate [savehubble.org] as well as a Maryland Delegation [savehubble.org], and has a response from O'Keefe [savehubble].

        On the house side we have picked up 5 more co-sponsors.
        Ehlers
        Markey
        Inslee
        Cummings Jim Moran

        http://SaveHubble.org [savehubble.org] could use some help with our efforts to poll all of

    • by EinsteinWasRight ( 697927 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:47AM (#8510503) Homepage Journal
      Not true. The point of the article is Ultra Deep Field imagery. Doing this requires focusing on a single point in space for long periods of time (In this case, 11.3 days) While not theoretically impossible to accomplish on earth, this would require building nearly identical telescopes worldwide and then coordinating their exposures to account for the rotation of the earth and then adapting for more variables than I have the patience to explain. For all practical purposes this is not going to happen in our lifetimes

      Furthermore this highly unlikely arrangement will never have the resolution, versatility, and usefulness for other types of astronomy as the Hubble.

      The horrible truth is that we are simply losing the collective will to achieve great things in the name of achieving cockamamie political boondoggles, both terrestrial and otherwise.
      • Re:Why scrap Hubble (Score:5, Informative)

        by V_M_Smith ( 186361 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @12:54PM (#8511197)
        While not theoretically impossible to accomplish on earth, this would require building nearly identical telescopes worldwide and then coordinating their exposures to account for the rotation of the earth and then adapting for more variables than I have the patience to explain. For all practical purposes this is not going to happen in our lifetimes.

        This is absolutely 100% false. The Hubble UDF image was taken over the span of several months, not over 11.3 days of consecutive orbits. Stacking images from earthbound telescopes taken over several different days/months is a standard astronomical practice. No special equipment (i.e. a worldwide distributed network of telescopes) is required to do this.

        As for not having the versatility of Hubble -- there are many terrestrial observatories that are far more versatile (and accessible!) than HST. It all depends on the sort of observing you're doing.

      • The horrible truth is that we are simply losing the collective will to achieve great things in the name of achieving cockamamie political boondoggles, both terrestrial and otherwise.

        The James Webb Telescope will be launched in 2010. It will greatly exceed Hubble in capability, especially in the infrared. Without servicing the Hubble shouldn't fail until 2007. Is it regretable the there is a gap between the two missions? Yes. Is it worth $1G to service Hubble with a shuttle flight? No.

        • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @03:15PM (#8512907)
          Is it worth $1G to service Hubble with a shuttle flight? No

          My question is: why service the Hubble with a super-expensive shuttle flight? How much would it cost to build a replacement and launch it on a standard rocket?

          We always hear about how much the Hubble cost, but I'm guessing that a lot of that was development costs. They still have the blueprints; how much could it cost to dust them off and build a quick clone?

          I would imagine that they could build a shiny new Hubble and launch it on an expendable rocket for less than the cost of a manned service mission to the old one. The key to keeping costs down would be to avoid the strong temptation to spend more money on "improving" the original design.


          • I've wondered that myself.

            I would hope, at least, that they would improve the electronics and construction materials. Lots of advances in those field since Hubble was designed & built two decades ago.

            Doing so is probably not trivial, but it's not a full redesign either.

            Heck, with the advances in manufacturing, we could probably get three new Hubbles for the price of one. I bet there's a lot of astronomers/astrophyscists out there who'd give a lot for better access to a Hubble.
            Now what would
      • I'm sorry you don't have the patience to explain, but perhaps you should bear through it if just for your own understanding. Hubble is in orbit around earth and not at a lagrange point. I don't know the orbital period off hand, but I think it's something like 20 minutes. This means Hubble can only take small exposures at a time before whatever it is observing gets blocked by earth. Even so, Hubble still needs to focus on one point, but I'd be very surprised if they didn't code some sort of image stabili
      • As many other people have pointed out elsewhere, hubble has a 2m DIFFRACTION-LIMITED primary mirror. You work out the resolution. 1.22*lambda/diamter. This is still far better than the best astronomical sites (seeing at mauna kea and paranal gets down to about 0.5 arcsec at best). Even with adaptive optics, you're not gonna get there. So no, a ground-based telescope won't get you the same result.

        Add to this, that hubble can get into the near UV, which is almost completely absorbed by the atmosphere.

        You
    • So, why exactly was it that NASA wanted to scrap the Hubble?

      NASA doesn't want to scrap the Hubble. They have to scrap the Hubble. Really it boils down to $$ and resources. Their funding is being cut severely and they have to choose which projects to keep going. With the Hubble costing them $$ in new parts and shuttle visits for maintenance, cutting it has the highest impact.

      • by RodRandom ( 734200 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @12:48PM (#8511142) Journal
        Overall, the problem with NASA is that it has to keep doing "clowns in space" to maintain its funding. Space Station; manned missions to Mars, space stations on the Moon--there are much cheaper (and far more effective) ways of doing the revolutionary science that is NASA's great legacy.

        How ironic that the occasional shuttle mission to service the scientifically invaluable Hubble should be considered too expensive when compared with the continuing Disney extravaganza of manned space exploration that is deemed indispensable.
    • Re:Why scrap Hubble (Score:5, Interesting)

      by maxpublic ( 450413 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @12:47PM (#8511121) Homepage
      Because NASA says that it costs too much to maintain, and it's getting close to its estimated end of life date.

      As reported recently in the news, this was refuted by two independent engineering teams *within NASA*. At which point NASA changed its tune and said that servicing the Hubble was too dangerous for the astronauts.

      Although recently *another* leak from inside NASA claimed that repairs to the Hubble were no more dangerous than any one of the 25 planned missions to complete the space station.

      There doesn't seem to be a good reason to abandon Hubble. Which makes me think that the real reason has far more to do with politics and budget appropriations than anything else.

      Max
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:02AM (#8510277)
    So Hubble has given us a lot of cool stuff. But the fact is, maintaining it costs money and that money could be used for new, improved projects with more up to date technology.
    • by jridley ( 9305 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:28AM (#8510408)
      True, but the AREN'T PLANNING ANY. The only space telescope on the drawing board is the James Webb scope, and it's an IR scope. There's nothing even in the planning stages for a replacement for Hubble.

      The truth is, the Hubble is still very capable, in fact more so than when it was launched. It needs new batteries and gyros, and as long as we're there, some new science instruments, and it'll keep going happily for a long time to come yet.

      If new batteries and gyros are put on board, they'll last even longer; the new ones are capable of lasting far longer than the originals.
      • by barawn ( 25691 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:51AM (#8510545) Homepage
        The only space telescope on the drawing board is the James Webb scope, and it's an IR scope. There's nothing even in the planning stages for a replacement for Hubble.

        You're wrong. The JWST will cover some of the optical, just not up through blue. Why?

        Because the optical is boring. Scientifically, it's not interesting. Deep-field objects are redshifted, and so naturally a big telescope will concentrate on the longer wavelengths.

        Besides, go look at some of the pictures that Spitzer has put out. They look gorgeous. They're fake color, sure, but who cares? In fact a lot of this stuff is redshifted, as I mentioned, so you're not even looking at it in "real" light anyway.

        The JWST is a replacement telescope to Hubble. Some features of Hubble's - like the ability to see in the blue band - just isn't that important for science right now.

        and it'll keep going happily for a long time to come yet.

        This is, of course, naive. Hubble is a space telescope, and it's already pockmarked from space debris. It's just a matter of time until Hubble is damaged beyond repair.

        It was never meant to last forever. Let it die.
        • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @12:19PM (#8510823) Homepage
          Because the optical is boring.

          To some degree, this is true. But the UV spectrum is *very* interesting, as it can be used for, amongst other things, detecting organic compounds in distant objects. Well, guess what, the JWST doesn't cover UV, either, and neither does any other telescope currently available, since the UV is only reachable from space.

          The fact is, the Hubble and JWST instruments are *complementary*. The Hubble can still do a lot of valuable science, and shutting it down for supposed budgetary reasons is just plain silly, IMHO.
        • The optical is boring and scientifically uninteresting? Sorry, but you're just plain wrong! Sure, maybe you can't see the most red-shifted "foo" galaxy, but with STIS (the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph) we can obtain optical/near UV spectra which contain an enormous number of ionised metal transitions. This gives us a heap of information about things like the formation of the milky way, the interiors of white dwarves and many other things. Also, the oversubscription rate of hubble gives a good indication on how valuable scientists think it is.

          Of course, I'm completely biased in that part of my Phd work is based on STIS work :-) But then, what is scientifically interesting is a matter partially of opinion and partially of what's "in vogue". Ten years ago nobody cared much about stars or the solar system. Now the stellar crowd is close to finding the first stars formed in the milky way (population III stars) and the solar system kids are in big demand because they know how planets work (extra-solar planets anyone?).

          As a cynical thought on JWST, don't underestimate the capacity for de-scoping the mission. It's happened already and is biting big projects (especially space-based ones) quite a bit in recent times. But maybe I'm just too pessismistic...

          $AUS0.02
        • Moderators need explain how your got rated a 4 for your silly reply.
          NGST is most certainly not a replacement for Hubble. And to say that optical is boring shows how very vert little to know of the science which is being done with HST and which will not be able to be done EVER again until another 2m class optical telescope gets put into orbit or optical ground based adaptive optics catches on (which will never happen because of the athmosphereic absorption). JWST was proposed, not as a replacement to JWST, b
          • Moderators need explain how your got rated a 4 for your silly reply.

            Because JWST is an medium optical, near infrared, and far infrared telescope, not an IR scope as the parent said, and therefore it is informative?

            NGST is most certainly not a replacement for Hubble.

            It is in the deep-field category, which is where all the pretty-picture enthusiasts are pushing.

            optical ground based adaptive optics catches on

            Catches on? I think just about everyone agrees that optical AO is the obvious next step - h
        • The JWST is a replacement telescope to Hubble. Some features of Hubble's - like the ability tosee in the blue band - just isn't that important for science right now.

          Wow. I'm in awe. With "insight" like that, who needs science?

          Here's a little basic physics for you: when hydrogen ionizes and recombines, it emits photons at a discrete series of wavelengths known as the Lyman series. The brightest line is the H 1 Lyman alpha, at 121.6 nm -- the brightest line from the most common element (99%) in the

    • by victorvodka ( 597971 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @12:44PM (#8511095) Homepage
      I'd much rather see that Hubble money going into invading random countries here on Earth. Hell, don't they know that space is just a illusion by the Devil to convince us the world is more than six thousand years old?
  • by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:02AM (#8510281) Journal
    Huh. I was expecting a photo of Kant, Descartes and Hobbes arguing on the Moon or something.
  • Ok Astronomy guys (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HMA2000 ( 728266 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:03AM (#8510294)
    How close is this to the "edge" ? Is it what we expected to see. Please, give a layperson like me some wowie zowie facts and figures :)
    • by hcg50a ( 690062 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:21AM (#8510357) Journal
      All this info is in the press release, but here is my commentary on it. They haven't had a chance to really study the image yet--it was just released to everyone--scientists and lay people alike.
      ...the million-second-long exposure reveals the first galaxies to emerge from the so-called "dark ages," the time shortly after the big bang when the first stars reheated the cold, dark universe. The new image should offer new insights into what types of objects reheated the universe long ago.

      It goes back to an era quite a bit earlier than the earlier deep-fields--about 400 and 800 million years after the big bang--and they are noticing quite a bit more chaos in the early universe, as the first galaxies were forming:

      In vibrant contrast to the image's rich harvest of classic spiral and elliptical galaxies, there is a zoo of oddball galaxies littering the field. Some look like toothpicks; others like links on a bracelet. A few appear to be interacting. Their strange shapes are a far cry from the majestic spiral and elliptical galaxies we see today. These oddball galaxies chronicle a period when the universe was more chaotic. Order and structure were just beginning to emerge.

      So, they are already seeing oddball things that they didn't see in earlier deep-field images.

      The image as presented is actually a composite of two images, one taken in visible light and one taken in near-infrared. This allows the image to show details that would have normally been obscurred by dust.

    • Re:Ok Astronomy guys (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nycsubway ( 79012 )
      How much farther is the edge of the universe? They haven't seem to have found it yet, and they keep pushing back the estimates of the big bang. One of three things are possible:

      1) The universe is a lot older than we thought

      2) There was no big bang, and space is infinite

      3) Space curves back on itself

      It's just interesting that each time they release pictures from really really deep space, they have to revise the estimate for the time of the big bang.

      • answers (Score:3, Informative)

        by hpulley ( 587866 )

        1) quite possibly. Jury is still out.

        2) No. Big bang is still the best bet and universe definitely appears to be finite (which doesn't mean there is a boundary or edge, just that it doesn't go on forever).

        3) Yes, space curves back on itself. That is the only way to have a boundless finite universe.

        References:

        Physics 110 cosmology FAQ [washington.edu]

        No Edge, No Centre [sonoma.edu]

        Will better images ever show the edge of the universe? [astronomycafe.net]

        How old is the universe? Finite or infinite? Have an edge? [space.com]

      • Re:Ok Astronomy guys (Score:3, Informative)

        by LMCBoy ( 185365 )
        Argh! What are you talking about? We know how far away the "edge" of the Universe is! The only context in which the question makes sense is if by "Universe" we mean the observable Universe, which is simply a sphere centered on us, with radius c*T, where T is the elapsed time between the epoch of recombination and now, which was just a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang. So T=13.7 Gyr +/- 10%.

        1) The universe is a lot older than we thought

        No, no one who knows the first thing about cosmology
    • Re:Ok Astronomy guys (Score:5, Interesting)

      by An Onerous Coward ( 222037 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:25AM (#8510395) Homepage
      As I understand it, the last time the Hubble tried something like this was the Hubble Deep Field [stsci.edu], which looked out to approximately 10% of the guesstimated age of the Universe. The full press release for the new UDF is here [nasa.gov].
      and they indicate that what we're looking at is about 400-800M years after the Big Bang.

      Generally, the galaxies appear way more active than what we see locally, which is to be expected. But I--total amateur that I am--think it's a bit odd that the galaxies got slapped together so quickly. Whether it draws any of our assumptions about the Big Bang itself into question remains to be seen.
      • Dark matter! (Score:3, Informative)

        by jpflip ( 670957 )
        The fact that galaxies get "slapped together so quickly" is actually a rather good piece of the evidence for the existence of dark matter. The amount of visible matter in an ordinary galaxy (or galaxy cluster - most of these simulations are actually done with clusters and not individual galaxies) would actually take quite a bit longer to form than what we observe. These objects form because the occasional bit of the gas in the universe is slightly more dense than the neighboring bits, and that clump will
    • by jpflip ( 670957 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:47AM (#8510504)
      As far as we understand it, there is no "edge" to the universe - at least not one we're expecting to ever be able to see. The universe as we know it has been around for about 13 billion years since the big bang. During that time, light has only been able to travel a certain distance - 13 billion light years (there are some technicalities with the fact that the universe is expanding as the light is traveling, but that's the gist). So we don't expect to ever be able to see farther than that distance, and most theories predict that the universe inflates (expands really fast) early in its life and so is actually much bigger than that distance. So if there is an edge, it's so far away light hasn't had the chance to get here from there. However, we can't even see that far. Earlier in the universe's history, it was much hotter and denser. Until about 300,000 years after the big bang, it was so hot and dense that it was opaque to light - light from before that epoch isn't able to travel very far without scattering, and can't reach our eyes. We can, however, see the last light that was released from the hot, dense gas just as the universe became transparent - this is seen as the cosmic microwave background. After that, the universe was very dark and homogenous - there were no stars or galaxies, and hence nothing for us to see! This period is called the "dark ages", for obvious reasons. After some hundreds of millions of years, gravity caused gas to clump together enough to produce the first stars and galaxies. These are the earliest things (other than the microwave background) that we could hope to study in a telescope picture. Some theories suggest that these might be weird objects - supermassive stars a hundred times bigger than our sun, bizzare protogalaxies, etc. - and they'll definitely teach us a lot about how galaxies form. So it's not the "edge", but it's probably quite near the edge of what we'll ever see.
    • The EDGE (Score:3, Informative)

      by peter303 ( 12292 )
      The "edge" is defined by frequency redshifting of infinity, where objects are receding at the apparent speed of light, and the universe is infinitely small. The largest redshifts observed last month are an eleven-fold frequency stretch (z=10). Visible light is stretched into deep infra-red. This implies an apparent doppler recession of 98% the speed of light (without including the cosmological constant or acceleration). It gets harder and harder to observe objects as they are more red-shifted.
  • by Yoda2 ( 522522 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:04AM (#8510300)
    If you look carefully at the top left quadrant, you can see what appears to be Captain Kirk arguing with God.
  • Comparing (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ch3shireCat ( 743565 )
    APOD [nasa.gov] had an old Hubble picture of the same space location earlier today. Unfortunately I didn't save it back then. Can someone please upload it so we can compare to the old depth of field?
    • You can click on the link embedded right in the page you gave a link to, from Sept 1, 2002. APOD never removes something from archive.
  • by oni ( 41625 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:04AM (#8510308) Homepage
    So, why exactly was it that NASA wanted to scrap the Hubble?

    Because thanks to adaptive optics, it is now possible to get very close to hubble's resolution with Earth-based telescopes. Thus, it is much, much cheaper to use those ground-based scopes.

    Because we don't have a really huge budget for this sort of thing, and all the money that goes into Hubble could be used on a newer, better space based scope.
    • You are also forgetting that space walks are dangerous and there is tremendous risks with sending up a Hubble repair mission.
    • by Doctor Fishboy ( 120462 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:31AM (#8510441)
      Because thanks to adaptive optics, it is now possible to get very close to hubble's resolution with Earth-based telescopes. Thus, it is much, much cheaper to use those ground-based scopes.

      ...but you cannot do UV work from the ground, as the atmosphere almost absorbs all UV flux of astrophysical interest. Also, AO is limited to about an arcminute around bright guide stars, and cannot provide good correction for the Earth's atmosphere beyond this radius. Laser projection systems are being developed to provide all-sky coverage, but they're a hassle to run consistently.

      Dr Fish

      • Because thanks to adaptive optics, it is now possible to get very close to hubble's resolution with Earth-based telescopes. Thus, it is much, much cheaper to use those ground-based scopes.

        Good points by Dr. Fish rebutting this, but there is one other point about AO -- it is *very* difficult to get precise photometry (measurements of the brightness of the objects in the field) from AO observations. These measurements are a necessity for most scientific studies of the area imaged.

    • Adaptive optics won't help with Deep Field observations, because the light from galaxies that far away has been red-shifted into the infra-red where it's absorbed by the atmosphere.
  • by braddock ( 78796 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:17AM (#8510331)
    So that the administration can turn NASA into a more pure multi-billion dollar yearly aerospace industry subsidy without a realistic programme or a significantly increased budget. NASA has always been an aerospace subsidy to some degree, but the Mars plan would probably double the portion of NASA's budget going directly into large aerospace companies for big ticket items, at the cost of stripping the science budgets clean.

    Several extra billion dollars a year makes for a happy Boing and Lockheed, the real winners.

    Braddock Gaskill
    • Several extra billion dollars a year makes for a happy Boing and Lockheed, the real winners.

      Damn straight, several extra billion dollars a year would make me a very happy Boing.

      Oh, did you mean Boeing [boeing.com]?

    • Several extra billion dollars a year makes for a happy Boing and Lockheed, the real winners.

      on the other hand, if Bush said "we will spare no expense to save hubble and pay for it by cancel any projects involving Lockheed and Boeing" we would have a slashdot thread about how Bush is responsible for layoffs in the aerospace industry.

      So I guess he's damned if he does and damned if he don't.
    • Actually it would be more like several hundred billion, not just a few. Anyway giving aerospace a kick is not a bad thing. It is one of the largest employers for the US, it is one of the few industies where it is illegal for them to export to lower expenses, and besides who do you think is going to be building orbital and solar craft that will expand what science can be done in the future?

      Look at the age of the shuttle and most of the military jets the US uses these days. Other than a few exceptions th

  • same reason.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    So, why exactly was it that NASA wanted to scrap the Hubble?"

    Same reason microsoft doesn't support windows 3.1. Technology ages, wears out, gets replaced by the newer-better-faster-cheaper tech., or simply becomes more hassle to maintain than it's worth.
    • Re:same reason.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SB9876 ( 723368 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @01:06PM (#8511364)
      While the Hubble is old, your argument isn't really that persuasive. The optics and superstructure of Hubble still sork fine and are as good as anything we'd put up now with the same general configuration. The aborted Hubble repair mission contains an entire new set of cameras and pointing control devices. BTW, we already spent $400 million on these and they're now gathering dust in a NASA warehouse somewhere. With that upgrade, Hubble would have been upgraded to the latest modern optics and the gyroscopes upgraded to where we'd probably be able to get 5-10 years of useful life out of it.

      The James Webb telescope in certain ways is much better than Hubble because of the larger mirror but can't see in the blue and UV which is OK if you're looking at distant, redshifted stuff but useless for looking at a lot of intergalactic events including some star formation processes. Furthermore, the biggest limitation of the space telescopes is one of time - we've got scads of ground based telescopes that users can schedule time on. For space-based telescopes, we've only got a few and the waiting lists are long. If we've got two telescopes, it basically doubles the number of users and science that can be done. Things like this UDF shot are hard to do since the 11 or so days of exposure that it required are hard to get with all of the competing time requirements.

      The line about Hubble being too dangerous to service are bunk as well. Although the spacewalk portions of the repair are hazardous, there has never, to my knowledge, been any sort of incident during a spacewalk. That seems to indicate that it is not devastatingly hazardous. Also, the ISS is actually much more dangerous to get to due to its higher inclination. Furthermore, the 20 or so further Shuttle flight needed to finish it have a vastly higher cumulative risk. The ISS is basically incapable of doing meaninful science at this point. The NSF did a study about 5 years ago where it pointed out that ISS was either incapable of fufilling its science objectives or that they could be done better on the ground. Since then, the science capability of ISS has been reduced even more. Basically, ISS is a $20 billion project to keep the US shuttle contractors in work and to keep Russian aerospace engineers from going to 3rd world ICBM programs. As such, it's not a bad use of money since the cost of those Russian engineers going abroad in terms of military expenditures we'd have to do 10 years from now are much higher. However, that said, I'd rather that our military welfare not step on the toes of actually getting science done.

      And lastly, the most important reason to keep Hubble running is that the Webb telescope isn't operating yet. It uses an folding mirror which has never been operationally tested. It sits too far away from Earth to ever be serviced should it have a malfunction. What if the booster lofting Webb blows up? If we deorbit Hubble, we open ourselves up to having NO space based optical and near IR telescope. We should at least service Hubble to keep it running until Webb is up and running reliably.
  • by parmenio ( 675323 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:18AM (#8510337)
    they want to redirect all available funds to manned missions. Even with the stunning success of the unmanned programs to Mars... It boggles the mind. Must be the thought of China putting men on the moon... I don't know...
  • Going Deep (Score:2, Funny)

    by Evanrude ( 21624 )
    You'd hope that with something that large it would be able to go deep...

    huh?
  • It's cheaper to use the natural telescopes that exist already in space, and provide 10,000X the resolution that the Hubble can do?

    http://astrobio.net/news/print.php?sid=835

    CLICKY HERE [astrobio.net]

  • Replace Hubble? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PingKing ( 758573 )
    Considering how old the technology that went into Hubble is, it would make more sense to plough the money into a new telescope with the latest technology.

    A modern telescope could capture images with less of an exposure time, letting us view more of the sky in less time, and with greater clarity.
    • Re:Replace Hubble? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LMCBoy ( 185365 )
      Considering how old the technology that went into Hubble is, it would make more sense to plough the money into a new telescope with the latest technology.

      That's why HST is serviceable, so that new instruments using improved technology can be added. The UDF was only possible because of the new Advanced Camera for Surveys that was installed during the last servicing mission.

      A modern telescope could capture images with less of an exposure time, letting us view more of the sky in less time, and with greate
  • by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:24AM (#8510369)
    Pictures like this evoke strong and polar opposite emotions in me. On the one hand I am excited to see such beautiful images. I can't help but think there is life out there somewhere in all those galaxies (OK, maybe those really deep field galaxies are still too young to have life).

    On the other hand, I am deeply depressed by these pictures because I know (to many 9s of certainty) that I shall never be able to visit these places. Seeing these galaxies makes them seem close enough to touch. Yet they remain so unreachable. SIGH!
  • by jwriney ( 16598 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:25AM (#8510383) Homepage
    So, why exactly was it that NASA wanted to scrap the Hubble?"

    How about because the only spacecraft they have available to fix it is a flying deathtrap, and they'd like to kill as few additional astronauts as possible?

    If they could figure a way to do it with Soyuzes, great. But don't try to talk NASA into endangering more lives just because you think George Bush is a dick.

    --riney
    • Flying deathtrap ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thrill12 ( 711899 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:41AM (#8510481) Journal
      By current knowledge the spaceshuttle is "unsafe", because a very serious accident happened. But by current knowledge your car is "unsafe" too, because in all likelihood, very serious accidents happened with your (model/year) car too.
      It's a mere matter of "acceptable risk" and "public opinion". If NASA decides the risk is "acceptable" and the "opinion" is that people would like to see Hubble repaired instead of chances reduced to 0% that there will happen an accident: Hubble will be repaired!
      If one thinks of the future, with a more advanced spaceship, there will always be a risk that is accepted, and there will always be public opinion to make that risk a go or no go for launch.

      I hope many people will see this picture, and wonder about the question: why not send the Space Shuttle back up now to safe Hubble, instead of waiting 10 years for who knows what ?
    • by LMCBoy ( 185365 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @12:54PM (#8511198) Homepage Journal
      Oh, come on! The Shuttles are hardly "deathtraps"!

      Before the Columbia accident, the estimated critical failure rate for Shuttle missions was 2%. The CAIB revised this, to 2%. Yes, that's right, their investigation found that the previous failure estimates were correct. In other words, our understanding of the danger inherent in shuttle missions has not changed at all since before the accident, only our willingness to face the danger has changed.

      Why? I don't know. There's no shortage of astronauts willing to take the same risks they've always taken, and fly another HST servicing mission. They recognize the benefits in keeping the greatest scientific instrument we've ever produced healthy. Too bad NASA and the president do not. I sincerely hope that our lawmakers can salvage the mission.
    • no, not really... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rbird76 ( 688731 )
      the problem is that the ISS (as others have said) requires 25 flights for servicing and completion, meaning those deathtraps are going to have plenty of time to kill astronauts with or without Hubble. As a bonus (as someone else said here) the orbit of the ISS presumably renders repairs even less safe than those to Hubble - thus the ISS is less safe, both on a per-mission and (by far) on an overall basis.

      the other problem is that Hubble can't be knocked out of orbit safely - it doesn't have that capability
  • Scrapping Hubble (Score:5, Informative)

    by UncleBiggims ( 526644 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:25AM (#8510384)
    They are not scrapping Hubble because of cost. The NASA Administrator stated that the reason was due to "the risk to the astronauts on a Hubble mission and President Bush's plans to send humans to the moon, Mars and beyond as the reason for NASA's change of focus." In fact, the planned upgrade has been built, tested and (most importantly) PAID FOR. It's just setting there waiting to be taking to the telescope and installed.

    Are you Corn Fed? [ebay.com]
    • Re:Scrapping Hubble (Score:4, Informative)

      by SB9876 ( 723368 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @01:16PM (#8511474)
      Futhermore, the risks of going to ISS are actually GREATER than Hubble:

      http://www.marssociety.org/docs/Hubblerisk1a.pdf
      http://www.marssociety.org/docs/Hubblerisk2a.pdf

      Those are a pair of leaked NASA documents that got sent to the Mars Society. Basically Hubble is being killed for political reasons.
  • The Shuttle Columbia (Score:3, Informative)

    by WyerByter ( 727074 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:25AM (#8510386) Journal
    The big reason I have heard for discontinuing mantanence on the Hubble is it's orbit. If a shuttle goes out to do maintanence and is damaged, the orbit makes it impossible to reach the ISS and difficult to do anything else to save the crew.
  • Not so fast (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zenetik ( 750376 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:26AM (#8510399)
    A close friend of mine is an astronomer in Arizona and her primary means of gathering data is the Hubble. She recently accepted a position in Colorado to continue her work with Hubble data and a new instrument called COS planned to be placed on Hubble. Since NASA's announcement, though, the COS portion of the project has been put on hold and COS funding has lost about $1 million.

    A bipartisan resolution was recently introduced in Congress to save the Hubble, a move highly supported by the Mars Society. I don't think NASA needs to be the sole financial basis for maintaining the Hubble, however. The telescope is valuable enough to private research facilities -- and still a viable platform for upgrades -- that the primary source of funding could come from them.
  • I'll only be impressed when they manage to photograph Helms Deep.
  • by necrosaro ( 748416 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:29AM (#8510422)
    hubble has got some huge mirrors....maybe we should look into turning the to-be retired telescope into a high powered laser. we could pick off distant planets that we dont like, or perhaps when (notice i said when) we find bin laden we could use it to cook his ass from space. i guess the only question you really have to ask is: why wouldn't we want a super high powered laser floating in space?
    • hubble has got some huge mirrors

      2.4 meters (all the usual references) isn't all that big by 2004 standards. Hubble has the best sensors money can buy, and operates in the perfect seeing of space, but its performance is (and will always be) limited by its small aperture.

      Others have mentioned adaptive optics, but what excites me is optical interferometry.

      ...laura

  • Save the Hubble (Score:5, Informative)

    by kippy ( 416183 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:32AM (#8510448)
    http://savethehubble.org/ [savethehubble.org]

    If they are willing to take the risk to finish ISS, there is no good reason not to fix Hubble.

    Write your congressman.
  • by ausoleil ( 322752 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:33AM (#8510460) Homepage
    According to this site: http://ngst.gsfc.nasa.gov/

    NASA intends to eventually replace the Hubble with the James Webb Space Telescope:

    The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is an orbiting infrared observatory that will take the place of the Hubble Space Telescope at the end of this decade. It will study the Universe at the important but previously unobserved epoch of galaxy formation. It will peer through dust to witness the birth of stars and planetary systems similar to our own. And using JWST, scientists hope to get a better understanding of the intriguing dark matter problem. The JWST is also a key element in NASA's Origins Program. So, between the JWST and the terrestrial observatories using new adaptive optic technologies, over the long haul it makes better sense to re-allocate our scarce space resources not only on these projects, but also towards the new goals announced by GWB. Remember that Bush hardly increased NASA's budget, so they cannot afford to do everything at once.

    More facts about the JWST as it stands now.

    Proposed Launch Date: August 2011
    Proposed Launch Vehicle: Ariane 5
    Mission Duration: 5 - 10 years
    Total payload mass: Approx 6200 kg, including observatory, on-orbit consumables and launch vehicle adaptor.
    Diameter of primary Mirror: ~6.5 m (21.3 ft)
    Clear aperture of primary Mirror: 25 m2
    Primary mirror material: beryllium
    Mass of primary mirror: about one-third as much as Hubble's
    Focal length: TBD
    Number of primary mirror segments: 18
    Optical resolution: ~0.1 arc-seconds
    Wavelength coverage: 0.6 - 28 microns
    Size of sun shield: ~22 m x 10 m (72 ft x 33 ft)
    Orbit: 1.5 million km from Earth at L2 Point
    Operating Temperature: Cost: $824.8 million

    Note that it is planned to launch the JWST using an Arianne rocket, which is far cheaper, and can also get the device to the L2 point. Yes, the shuttle could launch JWST into LEO (low earth orbit) but it would then have to travel up on an additional rocket. Seems like they have accounted for this and are going to use a cheaper expendable vehicle to do the job.

    • by EricWright ( 16803 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:55AM (#8510596) Journal
      The one problem with that is that the JWST is an infrared and near infrared telescope. 0.6 micron = 600 nm = red light. This won't give any coverage to the rest of the optical spectrum (~380-600 nm).
    • No argument about Webb being tecnically superior to Hubble. However, there's two problems.

      1: as the other reply mentions, Webb can't do green to UV measurements. Ground based telescopes lack the ability to do good UV measurements due to atmospheric absorbtion. There's still plenty of stuff that astronomers want to do in those wavelenghts.

      2: The Webb isn't up and running. What if that Ariane 5 blows up like they seem to be prone to do? What if the mirror doesn't deploy properly? The folding mirror h
  • by dummkopf ( 538393 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:45AM (#8510491) Homepage
    because they are *morons*... my wife is an astronomer and i have a lot of friends in the field. everyone seems outraged by this... it seems as if there are simple "marketing" reasons for scrapping the hubble telescope:

    1. talking about a deep field image is not as entertaining for the common american as talking about a man on mars.

    2. the shuttle is the weak link here. two have exploded so far. you need to service the telescope once in a while. currently nobody wants to hear the word shuttle, so why should we then service it?

    not to mention that the telescope is modular and you can always install new instruments, i.e. it can live long and prosper...

    what pisses me off most is that ther are several types of observation which you can *only* do from space. if hubble is scrapped, then several astronomers will be rather unhappy and unable to do their job. not to mention that hubble has provided amazing insights into space. the argument from NASA that it is too expensive to service it is BS. it's just that they are having a hard time to sell their budget in general and so they need to focus on more popular topics. now you might say: well, who cares about hubble. the new generation space telescope, james webb [nasa.gov], is around the corner! well, it is not. first, it will sit in a lagrange point in space (cool idea!!!) which is rather far away and so impossible to service if something breaks. and at this point i would like to remind you the faith of beagle 2 as well as the problems hubble had at the beginning (mistake in mirror). how shall we fix such problems on JW? in addition, JW telescope will be launched in 2011... and we all know that realistically it wont happen till 2015. so if hubble gets trashed in 2007, what will we do? why put all cards on JW if hubble is still perfectly functioning and generating the most amazing data? makes you wonder...

    as for the ultra deep image: amazing! i wonder how much it costs to use the hubble for ~ 11 days...
    • No Military value (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bstadil ( 7110 )
      Hubble has no military value so the Cheyney led boys in the Military -Industrial complex consider it waste.

      How can you fight Terrorism with Hubble? We are at war, Remember!!!

      PS: The "war-time" president has been on vacation more than any other President since Eisenhower.

  • 8 foot straw?? (Score:2, Interesting)

    I understand that the deep field is a narrow view, but could somebody please explain the straw length calculation. Why 8 foot instead of 7 or 1?

    Thanks in advance.
  • by feidaykin ( 158035 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:51AM (#8510548) Journal
    So, I was looking for the highest resolution version, and I finally found it here. [nasa.gov] They have a very amusing warning page:

    "You are attempting to access an image with an extremely high resolution. While the file size may be small, the number of pixels these images contains requires at least 113 MB of free RAM that is not being used by any other application, including your operating system.

    Many computers and Web browsers will have difficulty viewing this image, which is intended mainly for high-resolution printed and digital material. The image may not appear, it may cause your Web browser to lock up, or it may crash your computer. Some Web browsers will display a "broken image" icon in response to your attempt to view the picture.

    If you simply want to view this picture on screen, we recommend choosing one of the other image formats offered. If you still want to use this image, we suggest right-clicking (option-click on a Macintosh) on the following link, then choosing "Save Target As" to directly download this file to your computer. You can then try opening the file using dedicated image-viewing software. But note that few computers will be able to handle even the downloaded version of this image."

    Thanks hubblesite, you guys made my day. Now when I look at my five year old system that can barely run WarCraft III, I'll remember that it's one of the few computers in the world able to handle this image. ;)

  • NASA and Hubble (Score:4, Insightful)

    by retro128 ( 318602 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @12:05PM (#8510701)
    So, why exactly was it that NASA wanted to scrap the Hubble?"

    Probably because they are idiots. But has anyone else noticed that you're seeing Hubble a LOT more in the news since NASA's announcement? Methinks the scientists that operate Hubble are going for positive PR by getting lots of awesome pictures. IMHO, it's a good idea...Before people would probably ask "well, what has Hubble done lately?". Now, by making the public aware of Hubble's merit, they can generate some static for NASA.
  • by PassiveLurker ( 205754 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @12:38PM (#8511030) Homepage
    You can argue all you please about how Hubble is out-of-date and needs cancellation, but the real experts will disagree with you. Astronomers are quite irate about the Hubble's cancellation, and rightly so. Politicians should not dictate how NASA spends its paltry budget - and doubly so in an election year when your poll numbers are looking grim.

    Sean O'Keefe was picked for the head of NASA precisely because he has a reputation as a budget cutter. The man knows *nothing* about space science.

    But don't take my word for this. The American Astronomical Society - an organization that includes essentially all the professional astronomers in America, and rarely if ever takes a political stand - released a statement pleading to reconsider the cancellation:

    AAS's cancellation statement [aas.org]

    I believe there's a statement from the UK's Royal Astronomical Society there, too.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @01:03PM (#8511335)
    Let me highlight some myths that are in this forum:

    1) SM4 was canceled due to cost, we believe SM4 can extend the useful life of Hubble 4 or 5 years. Not True! [stsci.edu] SM4 was canceled primarily due to safety reasons. Please remember this, SM4 was Not Canceled due to Cost!!

    2) Hubble is in 100% working order. Not true! The gyros which point the telescope [hubblesite.org] are slowly failing [spacetoday.net].

    3) Adaptive Optics/Clever Image Processing/Ground based telescope are better than or equal to Hubble. Not completly true! AO can image single objects to better than hubble. But AO has poor field of view! [ucolick.org] For reference, the UDF images have a field of view of 180 arcseconds square. AO fails above, 30, and degrades quickly above a few. Worst, AO needs a bright star to work. There simply are not enough [ucolick.org] of these stars! I can't reference this, but experts in the field think that it will take 30 years to get to Hubble's level of performance with AO.

    4) Finally, AO will never work in at UV or near/mid IR wavelengths [soton.ac.uk].

    I am an astronomer, and I feel it is my duty to inform the public about the benefits of Hubble. HST serves a unique roll to the community. We should all understand exactly what the risk will be to fly SM4 before we lose 4 years of Hubble!

  • by catbutt ( 469582 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @03:49PM (#8513263)
    I suggest me adds it to his campaign platform: keep Hubble, scrap the humans-on-mars-by-way-of-the-moon fantasy, bring stem cell research back to the US, and teach all the children how to pronounce nuclear properly.
  • SaveHubble.org (Score:3, Informative)

    by chuckpeters ( 58377 ) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @04:10PM (#8513580) Homepage
    It was politics, ie Bush's men on mars initiative, that led to O'Keefe's decision to cancel Hubble's servicing mission. Let's not give up now that O'Keefe is starting to feel some political pressure. At http://SaveHubble.org [savehubble.org] we are working on polling all of congress. How about some of you slashdot readers give us a hand contacting them [savehubble.org]?

Sendmail may be safely run set-user-id to root. -- Eric Allman, "Sendmail Installation Guide"

Working...