Tag Archives: big science

Telescopes of the future

Two stories were published on Thursday about two very different future space telescopes. Both are worthwhile, but the differences between them illustrate how the industry of space astronomy — like manned space — is evolving from Big Science and government to small, efficient, and privately built.

First there is this story describing how the nonprofit B612 Foundation’s project to launch an infrared telescope by 2017 had passed its first technical review.
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A U.S. senator has demanded the NIH explain how it could give a $2 million grant to a researcher previously punished for not reporting financial conflicts of interest who is also under investigation by the Department of Justice.

Corruption in Big Science: A U.S. senator is demanding the NIH explain how it could give a $2 million grant to a researcher previously punished for not reporting financial conflicts of interest who is also under investigation by the Department of Justice.

Are astronomers finally going to push for a replacement for Hubble?

Astronomers are considering the merger two space missions to create a new optical/ultraviolet space telescope. The mission would be designed to do both deep cosmology and exoplanet observations.

The two communities would both like to see a 4–8-metre telescope in space that would cost in excess of $5 billion. “Our interests are basically aligned,” says [Jim Kasting, a planetary scientist at Pennsylvania State University]. Such a mission would compete for top billing in the next decadal survey of astronomy by the US National Academy of Sciences, due in 2020.

This story is big news, as it indicates two things. First, the 2010 Decadal Survey, released in August 2010, is almost certainly a bust. The budget problems at NASA as well as a general lack of enthusiasm among astronomers and the public for its recommendations mean that the big space missions it proposed will almost certainly not be built.
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