Tuesday, October 31, 2006

High Flying Hubble

Great news today: NASA has announced that it will send a shuttle mission to rescue the Hubble Space Telescope, only recently left for dead. I say this with no small amount of pleasure because it is such surprising news--in the past few years, the HST program had become marginalized for a number of reasons, including a priority on the International Space Station, President Bush's Mars idea, and the Columbia space shuttle disaster.

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 pillarsView of the Tarantula Nebula

1 comment:

ABT said...

Damn right.