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Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

Posted August 17, 2011 8:35 AM

Amid political wrangling over the budget last month, the U.S. House of Representatives proposed canceling the James Webb Space Telescope, the follow-on to the Hubble Space Telescope. The program has survived for now, but when the next round of cuts take place this fall, it may well not. If it gets cut, it's over. At the same time, the program is too far along to be rescaled in an attempt to adjust costs. What do you think Congress, and NASA, should do about the project?

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#1

Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/17/2011 10:37 PM

Déjà-vu; we just had another thread on the same topic.

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/18/2011 2:22 AM

Yep, in the end all they do is look at the past and that in the present future.

If they really need it they will get it. Nothing a bit of lobbying can't help.

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#3
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Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/18/2011 10:50 AM

Or was that days of future passed?

Oops, showing my age.

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#4
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Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/18/2011 3:39 PM

I'll need until next week to work that one out, if I make it.

Oops, showing my age.

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#8
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Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/19/2011 11:15 AM

This is what I was thinking of when referring to "Days of Future Passed".

An album by the Moody Blues.

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#10
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Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/21/2011 11:27 AM

But this one doesn't mention anti-science!

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#11
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Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/21/2011 11:34 AM

Does that mean AH & I can post?

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#12
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Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/21/2011 12:09 PM

I must admit, it's kind of nice being able to reply to this blog without roger jamming my opinion back down my throat as being stupid, wrong, shortsighted...............................name your adjective. I'm not going to miss antiscience.

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#13
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Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/21/2011 12:14 PM

ok

assuming we think JWST is a good idea, how would we go about expressing that opinion in a way that will have the maximum positive effect?

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#14
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Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/21/2011 12:49 PM

I think it's a good idea that we can't afford right now. Not alone anyway. Hence my thoughts on making deep space "anything" an international collaboration. We share the data with other countries anyway, let's get some help paying for the telescope.

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#16
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Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/21/2011 8:14 PM

we ain't broke, anymore than we were broke at the end of WWII

we really do have to stop having pointless wars for ungrateful non allies

how much money is going to be wasted by stopping JWST now?

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#17
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Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/21/2011 9:14 PM

A lot..........................a bunch of money.

Why do think that agreeing with dr roger was so frustrating?

I was always wrong.......................................as was everyone else.

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#18
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Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/21/2011 11:35 PM

Beware of the undead penguin.

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#5

Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/19/2011 8:05 AM

They should do what they should have in the first place. If it's not too late.

These projects should be international collaborations, with the cost, the work load, the data, and the knowledge acquired, shared across many countries. There is no reason for the US and NASA to do this alone. Deep space exploration should not be a competition.

As was pointed out repeatedly in the other thread........................we're broke!

The secret is out.

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#6
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Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/19/2011 9:15 AM

Were not broke unless we think we are, maybe I'll start a thread on that later.

Collaborations are fine unless the the Military-industrial complex is involved, star wars replaced by galaxy wars, perhaps.

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#7
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Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/19/2011 9:56 AM

No, we're not broke, just spending more than we take in, which is unsustainable.

And you're right, collaborations can't happen if we have ulterior motives associated with J.W. telescope. But look at it this way. If there were military/defense utilizations associated with the telescope, cuts never would have been mentioned.

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#9
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Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/19/2011 11:32 AM

we're not broke, it's political theater

much like a small child trying every diversionary tactic possible to avoid doing their chores

make the agencies & programs run efficiently, keep working at it, no different than any other process improvement program

would any of us take 5 weeks of vacation in the midst of such a supposedly dire crisis?

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#15

Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/21/2011 8:10 PM

I'd like it to continue, but as I said to Roger: The Keck II: "... first laser guide star adaptive optics system on a large telescope. The laser guide star AO now routinely produces images with greater crispness and detail than those resulting from the Hubble Space Telescope."

So tell me what will we get from all the billions spent on it that we can't get from ground based telescopes? Maybe those billions would be better spent solving homelessness in this country, or on the war on drugs, or on healthcare, or on...

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#19
In reply to #15

Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

08/22/2011 1:52 PM

This sentiment is where the "Anti-Science" mentality can make one feel bipolar. A certain proponent of this view also cares precisely about the suffering you are alluding to.

The gut feeling answer rational people have is that there really is so much waste and inefficiency in our "systems" (which are a reflection of our cultural psyche) that we should be able to have our cake and eat it, too. The problem is that NOW we have been boxed in by the poor planning and decision-making of generations of public servants who many times weren't serving the public. A good current example of why we keep making the same mistakes (and I really hope won't be this time) is the verbiage that is exemplified by the, now candidate for president -- Rick Perry. Just repeat "feel good" generalizations without specific details of how to get to them and... the rest is mostly history. (I'm a native Texan by the way.)

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#20

Re: Should Congress Cut the James Webb Space Telescope?

09/23/2011 1:53 AM

There are two main quality factors to a telescope: the light (or radio) gathering capability, and the achieveable angular resolution. The twinkling from the atmosphere is an add-on. The light gathering capability does not seem to be an issue. The angular resolution is addressed by multiple telescopes. The twinkling problem is addressed well for terrestrial telescopes.

So, what is so special about telescopes in outer space? Competition, pure and simple. Many innovative techniques were developed in response to Hubble, for terrestrial telescopes, IMHO.

Such a challenge is posed now by Kepler, as yet unanswered.

Such a challenge will be posed by a pair of telescopes for light, another pair for radio, another for microwaves, another for infrared, etc. They will be placed in leading / lagging position to Earth to provide a Really Large Base Interferometry to get unheard of resolution of far, far away obiects. And record their radiation. Will there be an answer for terrestrial telescopes? Knowing the competitive nature of engineers and scientist, you can bet on it. Good.

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