SJAA Ephemeris May 2009 | SJAA Home | Contents | Previous | Next

Hubble Repairs


On May 11, the Space Shuttle Atlantis started its latest mission - to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. The modifications that are to be done will not merely return the Hubble back to where it was but will greatly increase its capabilities. One estimate is that its scientific power will increase by 90 times over its original design after it is refurbished. How do they measure that?

Let’s look at numbers we can understand like money. The Hubble Space Telescope has cost the average American so little per year that you could almost add it to the McDonald’s dollar menu ($10 billion divided 300 million people divided by 25 years = $1.33). Compare this to the amount spent just this year on AIG which would cover the cost for you and a friend to fly to Paris, eat at the McDonald’s there, and fly back (about $600).

So what did you get for your $1.33? About 570,000 images so far looking at 29,000 celestial objects. And all of these images are yours, property of the U.S.A. though it doesn’t mean that you can get money from them unless properly licensed.

Is the HST the most productive telescope ever? Sandra Faber says “... that after Galileo’s tiny little telescope ... Hubble is right there.... Telescopes are the only real time machines that human beings have ever invented.”


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