Double Hubble?

I happened to glance at Twitter this afternoon and saw a tweet from Alberto Conti (of the Space Telescope Science Institute) about the announcement that NASA has been "given" two Hubble-sized telescopes. According to articles in the New York Times and Washington Post, the US National Reconnaissance Office decided it no longer needed them (for looking down) and offered them to the space agency for astronomy. Andy Lawrence points out that one of these would be perfect for WFIRST.

The two telescopes appear to be just that; telescopes. They have no astronomical instruments and are on the ground. To use them NASA will have to build instruments, launch them, and support operations. All those things cost quite a bit of money so I'm not sure how this sits in NASA's squeezed budget. You've got to hope that other existing projects aren't cut to make way for these gifts.

One quote in the Washington Post article that I don't understand was the claim by David Spergel that the telescopes "will have 100 times the resolving power of the Hubble". They are the same diameter as Hubble so I don't know where that extra resolving power would come from. Perhaps it is a misquoted reference to their larger field-of-view than Hubble. I don't think they're supposed to be working as a 250m baseline optical interferometer (although that would be very cool).

Update 17:55 BST: Thanks to Mark Stacey, I've seen that the Washington Post have very quickly corrected their article so it now says "100 times the field of view of the Hubble". I'm impressed that a newspaper corrected itself so promptly. Mind you, I'm used to British papers taking rather longer.

Tags: | | |
Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Monday 04th Jun 2012 (17:34 BST) | Permalink
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]