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Hubble and JIMO - victims of NASA budget cuts

NASA will send a robotic spacecraft to bring the Hubble down to crash in the ocean

The Hubble Space Telescope and the JIMO mission designed to tour between the moons of Jupiter are the victims of NASA's budget cuts for 2006. According to the budget proposal, a plan to overhaul the Hubble will be canceled and it will be returned to a controlled crash on Earth.
NASA's total budget for the 2006 budget year will be 2.4 percent larger than that of 2005, $16.5 billion, but only $93 million will be allocated to Hubble. About 75 million of them will be allocated to the development of an unmanned spacecraft that will attach itself to Hubble and take it to the Pacific Ocean where it will end its life safely without harming humans.
NASA was also less affected by the cuts compared to other federal agencies. However, the White House did not seek the amount of money that NASA demanded as it had previously planned, and this is bad news for Hubble.
NASA auditor Steve Isakowitz said that NASA is planning a mission to build a satellite that will take Hubble out of orbit and bring it down safely to the ocean.
"The Hubble is a dying space vehicle," he said at a press briefing for the publication of the budget proposal. "We have decided that the risk of sending astronauts to perform service missions at this time is too great and is not worthwhile."

The decision angers the Hubble supporters who believe that the telescope is ready for many more years of good scientific service in observations given the planned service. They hope that the Congress that approved the budget will insist on finding funds to save the orbital observatory.
"There is a long history of things being put in the NASA budget to the chagrin of its bosses and finally changed by Congress," says Roger Thompson, an astronomer at the University of Arizona and principal investigator of the Nicmos camera, an instrument installed on Hubble on the service mission by astronauts in 1997. According to him, "Gravity Probe-B was canceled several times and each time was inserted into the budget by Congress. "There is going to be an extensive debate about this and there is a chance that the funding will be returned to the budget." Thompson said.

safety considerations
In December, a panel of experts determined that astronauts could do the best job in the Hubble service and rejected proposals to launch robotic missions. The outgoing NASA administrator, Sean O'Keefe, said that the decision regarding Hubble was influenced by this assessment and the commitment to meet the safety conditions demanded by the Columbia disaster investigation committee. "Even if we can perform a robotic mission, we probably won't be able to build that capability in enough time," O'Keeffe said. "It is difficult to see how a manned mission will be able to meet the safety requirements of the investigation committee. He reaffirmed that the space agency plans to continue following President Bush's vision of January 2004. This means a major shift in the mix toward manned missions back to the moon and even the first manned flight to Mars. This includes, among other things, the development of a reusable spacecraft Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) as a replacement for the shuttle.


One mission in a generation for justice and it too was cancelled

An expensive mission that may fall victim is, as mentioned, the JIMO mission to explore the moons of Jupiter (Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter), which is intended to be launched in 2015 as a prelude to the Prometheus project, which will include the launch of nuclear-powered spacecraft.
It was supposed to enter orbit around Jupiter and its moons, landing landers on the surface of several of them as Cassini landed Huygens on Saturn's moon Titan.
NASA officials have said that Jimmo is an ambitious mission that seeks to accomplish too much for a demonstration project and that a search for an alternative has already begun.
"Such big missions have always had ups and downs," commented Prof. Fred Taylor (Taylor) from the University of Oxford in the UK, and a scientist in the Galileo project that orbited Jupiter in the XNUMXs. "When approved missions are canceled it is very upsetting" he said.
"If the alternative is a cheaper mission that will come out sooner, we may gain scientific knowledge faster. If the purpose of the research is to cover serious flaws, then maybe it's better to look for another solution" he added with some hope.


save the grief

The space telescope, which has been launching amazing photographs for 14 years, is in danger: since the launch of the space shuttle was stopped, no maintenance operations have been performed on it and its condition is dismal. In front of those in favor of saving it stand those who oppose it, claiming that it is a huge waste

Aryeh Agozi, YNET

Save the grief - this movement is gaining momentum in the United States and around the world. Will the supporters manage to save the most powerful eye ever placed in space to discover what is happening millions and billions of light years from Earth? No one knows how to answer this question, but it is clear to everyone that this is a decision with tremendous significance.
The first space telescope continues to launch photographs, but only serious maintenance work will allow it to continue to perform its role effectively. The Hubble Space Telescope, named after a well-known astronomer, is a creation of space technologies and optics, as if taken from science fiction books. Since he was placed in space, 14 years ago, he never ceases to amaze the scientific community with the photographs of various celestial bodies that he sent to Earth.
Until the space shuttle Columbia crashed in 2003, space shuttle astronauts would repair the space telescope every few months. But the crash, in which the Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon also perished, caused the launch of the shuttles to stop, which also put a strain on the regular maintenance of the Hubble.
Now the scientific community in the United States needs to decide how to handle Hubble's rescue, if at all. Should we wait for the resumption of space shuttle flights, probably in the middle of the year? Should we launch an unmanned spacecraft towards him to replace the batteries and cameras that have decreased in quality?
It is clear to everyone that an urgent repair task will cost no less than two billion dollars. This amount startles many, and the debate about the justification of the very large investment is in full swing. Without the planned repair, the space telescope will end its active life and be destined to crash into the ocean.
The scientists who support extending the life of the space telescope are at pains to emphasize the great progress that has been made in designing an unmanned spacecraft, a robotic technician, that will be launched into space and perform all the maintenance work on Hubble. But both a manned space shuttle mission and the launch of a robotic vehicle cost money, a lot of money. Today, the American space agency is not at the top of the national priority list of the United States, which is immersed up to its neck in the war in Iraq.
Even after resuming the launch of the shuttles, it is not certain that the maintenance task of the Hubble will be the first priority. In the United States, there has been a sharp debate for several years between those who support the continued occupation and exploration of space and those who claim that this is a huge waste. Are space shuttles necessary? Is the International Space Station currently being built necessary? Should the space telescope continue to look towards what is at imaginary distances from Earth?
The camps are completely divided. Those who claim that all the huge budgets are meant to please only the scientific community, say that the United States should not continue the huge investments. The others say that space has tremendous potential for humanity. Someone will have to make a decision, and soon.
Will more space telescopes be launched in the future? The investment is huge, and the debate about the need for such eyes in space poses a question mark. That's why the scientists are trying to save Hubble, to give him a few more good years of visual acuity into the vastness of the universe. In the meantime, the scientists at the ground station are storing all the material that Hubble launches. Years will pass until the decoding of all these images is completed. But the scientists want more, and in the coming days we will know if they can get what they want.

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