I have always believed the HST to be vitally important not just because of its scientific impact--it has helped determined the age of the universe, and furthered understanding of dark energy, for example--but because of its appeal to the public. Those breathtaking pictures of deep space that everyone knows and loves have contributed significantly to the public's support (emotional support yes, but more importantly financial support) for space exploration.
I mean, let's face it, anyone from my generation was born at least a decade after the last Apollo moon landing. Since then, what else in the field of space exploration has been able to get people excited, especially in the 1990s and 2000s after the novelty of the space shuttle wore off?
As a result of today's decision, the Hubble will be repaired and improved in 2008 and will remain operational at least until 2013, when its successor will be launched. Props to NASA for making the right decision.
|View of the Eagle Nebula pillars||View of the Tarantula Nebula|