Thursday Throughput for July 18, 2019

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He is on Twitter, blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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4 Responses

  1. Oscar Gordon says:

    So many telescopes I can’t even keep track of them all without a cheat sheet.Report

  2. Aaron David says:

    8- Wasn’t there an actually decent SciFi movie about something like this? Europa maybe?Report

  3. George Turner says:

    Yesterday I was commenting on Bob Zubrin’s piece where he contrasted the successes of the unmanned science programs with the stagnation and overruns of the manned program. He said the difference was “mission focus”, but I questioned whether there was really any difference in functionality.

    The robotic missions work great and produce tons of data, but rely on the same extremely expensive legacy boosters. Both programs often spread work across as many states and countries as possible to maintain political support. Both are subject to massive delays and cost overruns, and the JWST seems even worse than the SLS in that regard. That program started a decade before SLS, yet SLS will probably fly before JWST does.

    They are both reflective of a bureacratic, top-down approach to large programs, and a better approach might be for the government to contract with the private sector for services, such as high-data rate Jovian weather satellites, or far-infrared distant galaxy recon, letting Probes-R-Us compete with Amazon Probe and Tesla Rovers.

    The trouble is that although we are dominant in astronomy and space probes and telescopes, our only point of comparison is other government space-agency programs, and that’s a very low bar. JPL is great, but at their core, shouldn’t they be teams of planetary scientists and astrophysicists who just want tons of data scrolling across their screens? Is re-inventing the wheel (literally) or tweaking a valve assembly something best done by a government science lab?Report

  4. Kolohe says:

    e lost our national nerve, most notably after the Challenger disaster.

    This is the conventional wisdom, but I partially disagree. For one, on the timing itself, (as portrayed in Apollo 13), public interest went way down *immediately* after Apollo 11, as the perception that we were just doing hack sequels.

    But, even more, the loss of the two shuttles demonstrated not a ‘failure of nerve’ but the opposite (converse? obverse?) – The System wasn’t treating space launches with sufficient respect and awe – risk management got extremely complacent.

    Though most of all, what we had after Apollo was a lack of any more relative low hanging fruit for new milestones for personnel in space – except for longevity, which we’ve done a respectable job of progressively pushing the boundaries over the course of decades.

    Physics and geometry (spaceometry?) create a problem set orders of magnitude greater than the previous one for each distance from earth milestone. (AUstone?)Report