Due to a software issue, the Hubble Space Telescope shifted into safe mode early yesterday and stopped doing its programmed science observations.
The engineers seem confident all will eventually be well, but we must also remember the telescope’s infrastructure (not its instruments) was built in the early 1980s and has been in space since 1990. That makes many parts of this telescope 40 years old. We are increasingly faced with the possibility of a fatal fault occurring that shuts it down for good, with no way at the present time to reach it and fix it, and with the only comparable optical space telescope in the works one being built by China to fly in formation with its space station.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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