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OT: Not again! Astronomy related

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  • OT: Not again! Astronomy related

    They did it again. The mirror on the deep impact comet exploration mission is screwed up, just like Hubble. I can't believe they didn't learn from the Hubble fiasco.

    There is also some info at this site about a Bogus Mars Chain Letter.

    http://skyandtelescope.com/news/article_1529_1.asp
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  • #2
    Oh come now, your talking about a US Government agency. They never learn from mistakes. They just keep throwing money at it until it's fixed or "their" Senators fail to get re-elected.

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    • #3
      Unfortunately this one can't be fixed. NASA is trying to spin it that there won't be a significant effect on performance and that the images can be corrected by post processing. The fact remains that the resolving power of the main telescope is four times worse than planned. All the sharpening and deconvolution algorithms can't replace missing data. NASA'a track record is pretty dismal in the last couple of decades or so regardless of the few outstanding successes like Galileo and the Mars rovers. The disturbing thing is the source of the errors. They are usually a systemic failure, not a case of running into some unexpected circumstance that could not have been predicted. If we lose one more shuttle the US manned space program is history.

      [This message has been edited by Evan (edited 06-13-2005).]
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      • #4
        Yep, I read where they may get 6 meters per pixel. That's a far cry from the intended 1.4 meters per pixel. They won't be able to distinguish a bolder from a car at that rate. I guess they'll assume there's no cars up there.

        The sad part is that the company that made the optics is still getting paid and more money will be spent to make the images usable. On top of that, the same company will probably be involved in another NASA project. Like anything made to order (spec), it's based on measurements. Sounds like someone didn't know measurements or equipment change with temperature.

        Sad indeed.

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        • #5
          Yeah, that is sad. Egg on their faces, again. This was a preventable thing, and it should have been caught. What is that, incompetence, sloppy workmanship, cost cutting gone too deep?
          I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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          • #6
            It is incomprehensible to me. The required tests are cheap and easy to do. They can be performed in an afternoon with materials lying about the average home workshop. The size of the mirror is not important.

            A Ronchi test can qualify a mirror to 1/20 wave accuracy and costs literally a few dollars to do. You can tell at a glance if the mirror is accurate. Why didn't they do it????

            http://www.nova-optical.com/ronchi.htm
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            • #7
              It get's worse, NASA's awarded the contract to build the shuttle replacement to Boeing and LM, rather than Rutan! http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2005...ontractor.html

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              • #8
                The only thing impressive to me about NASA is that there hasn't been a popular uprising to kill the funding for it and spend it on things needed right here on earth that are a lot more pressing than space telescopes. For the amount of tax money spent on it in the last 40 yrs, they should be in full scale operation growing money on Pluto by now, instead of having some wack job go on tv and try to sell their grand plan of settling siginificant amounts of the earths population on other planets, which I witnessed on C Span once with my jaw practically on the floor. Back when Eisenhower warned against the military industrial complex, entities like NASA were exactly what he was talking about.

                [This message has been edited by pete913 (edited 06-14-2005).]
                Pete

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                • #9
                  <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by pete913:
                  The only thing impressive to me about NASA is that there hasn't been a popular uprising to kill the funding for it and spend it on things needed right here on earth that are a lot more pressing than space telescopes. For the amount of tax money spent on it in the last 40 yrs, they should be in full scale operation growing money on Pluto by now, instead of having some wack job go on tv and try to sell their grand plan of settling siginificant amounts of the earths population on other planets, which I witnessed on C Span once with my jaw practically on the floor. Back when Eisenhower warned against the military industrial complex, entities like NASA were exactly what he was talking about.

                  [This message has been edited by pete913 (edited 06-14-2005).]
                  </font>

                  Let's see, last year NASA got around $15.6B in the Federal budget. And I will grant you that a significant amount was wasted, often on programs that Congress basically funds initially then decides they don't like. At the same time the domestic side of the budget, Health and Human Services, Energy, Education and all the rest of the alphabet soup in DC got $819B which if you took the NASA budget and divided up proportionally to all of those agengies and departments it would of increased their bidgets a whole 1.9%. Not chicken feed but an amount of money that would really accomplish any yhing Earth shattering either. Put it another way NASA gets amproximately .6% of the Federal Budget.
                  Forty plus years and I still have ten toes, ten fingers and both eyes. I must be doing something right.

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                  • #10
                    <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Spin Doctor:

                    Let's see, last year NASA got around $15.6B in the Federal budget.
                    </font>
                    Well, let's see. If I could just have a couple of months of interest on that figure, I'll promise to go away and not waste any taxpayer dollars. Really.

                    -M
                    The curse of having precise measuring tools is being able to actually see how imperfect everything is.

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                    • #11
                      The big problem is the atmosphere of invicibility. How many of us would still have our jobs or our customers if we had made a mistake of that magnitude twice? Why isn't the money going to that mirror subcontractor reduced everytime they screw up a mirror? They dropped the resolution by a third; their money gets cut by an equal amount. Let's see how fast they learn to correct their errors then.

                      Jack

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                      • #12
                        I'm not really into trashing NASA. I believe and support the space program. But not the c*** that seems to come with it. What they need to do is put the fun back into it instead of running it like a business/political cow.

                        The head man MUST be chosen from the scientists or asronauts, not from the government bureaucracy. That is an absolute must. No managers allowed in management.

                        The attitudes there must be changed. Space should be FUN. Not work or a way to get ahead or a way to just get a government pension. Why do space telescopes fail? Because they are overmanaged and controlled. If either of those scopes had been drug out into the parking lot and been used for a star party before launching them, then the mistakes would have been found. But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. They are too precious to have a little FUN with. God forbid.

                        God save the world from managers.

                        Paul A.
                        Paul A.
                        SE Texas

                        Make it fit.
                        You can't win and there IS a penalty for trying!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The newly appointed Director is a scientific type. I read an article a few days ago, to the effect that he's going to do some major house cleaning.
                          Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

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                          • #14
                            I don't think he will be able to fix the problems. They run too wide and deep. This isn't new. Ever since the beginning of the shuttle program and especially the Challanger failure no real improvement has happened.

                            <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> From Aviation Week, April 2003.

                            The Columbia accident investigation board is beginning to embrace assertions that the same management loopholes and flaws that resulted in the Challenger accident 17 years ago also played key roles in the Columbia tragedy...

                            Such findings would mean that in effect similar NASA program deficiencies are directly culpable in the death of 14 astronauts and the loss of two shuttle orbiters worth $4 billion.

                            Experts last week told the board that "the problems that existed at the time of the Challenger accident have not been fixed"

                            What that assessment indicates is that not only could the Columbia accident have been prevented, but that the Challenger management findings made years ago provided ample direction on how to avoid the Columbia tragedy.
                            </font>
                            Here


                            We will see. The new administrator is Michael Griffin and he is an engineer. He has already sacked the administators of the shuttle/ISS team and Rear Admiral Craig E. Steidle, the head of the Moon/Mars teams. That's a start but I don't know how he is going to handle problems that are outside his direct control such as this mirror snafu at Ball Aerospace.
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                            • #15
                              NASA doesn't design anything. NASA shuffles money and contracts around. The Space Telescope mirrors were bungled by Perkin-Elmer in Connecticut. This clanger is by Ball Aerospace in Colorado. No connection between the two that I've heard of. Saying it's the same people making the same mistake is like blaming a Ford screwup on GM.

                              NASA's too old. A government agency only has a few years before the professional featherbedders move in, and at NASA they seem to be there to stay.

                              I don't believe that story about the temperature change in the test optics. That's much too simple. I've never met an optician who was too dumb to know about temperature problems. Of course, I haven't met them all.

                              Sometimes the problem really is simple stuff, though. I once caught a major error on a space telescope/camera being built for the Strategic Defense Initiative (DoD, no NASA involvement) - I calculated that the telescope as designed wasn't going to fit inside the nosecone of the launch vehicle (a Titan II). The dumb turkeys on the CAD systems hadn't caught it.

                              Is that classic, or what?

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