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Let's go to the moon says [NASA]

PeenPeen Registered User regular
edited November 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
Greg Easterbook has once again backed up things I've thought with actual numbers and research as in today's TMQB he talks about NASA's plan to go the moon and then Mars:
(spoilered for long)
Bring Space Policy Down to Earth: Soon, Barack Obama must make a decision on whether to continue funding NASA's daffy plan to build a Motel 6 on the moon. The president will be put on the spot when the final report of a space commission (here is its preliminary report) is delivered. Rumor is that in keeping with the tradition of Washington commissions, the report will contain extremely vague language about sweeping reform; then cite every item on every wish list of every interest group with a finger in this pie; then recommend nothing specific, so as to offend no interest group; then close with a call for higher subsidies. NASA is not one of the core missions of government, and spends only one-half of 1 percent of the federal budget, so space waste is relatively minor in the scheme of things. But if public policy can't get this right, what can it get right?

Right now NASA's budget is $18 billion annually, and the quarter or so spent on science -- planetary probes, telescopes that scan the far universe -- is going very well. The rest of NASA is a mess. The agency has just thrown $100 billion of your money down the drain on the space station, which has no scientific achievement and no known purpose other than keeping checks in the mail to favored contractors and congressional districts. The station is such a white elephant the current plan is to "deorbit" the thing in 2016. "Deorbit" is polite for "make it burn up in the atmosphere." So after spending $100 billion to build a space station, we'll destroy it. Your tax dollars at play!

Since 2004, NASA has said its next goal is a manned outpost on the moon, as a stepping-stone to manned travel to Mars. There's nothing a person could do on the airless, lifeless lunar surface that a tele-robot operated from a Houston office building could not do at a fraction of the price and risk. And the moon has nothing to do with Mars. Any Mars-bound mission will leave directly from low-Earth orbit to the Red Planet: stopping at the moon, then blasting off again, would consume the mission's fuel to accomplish nothing. Though NASA has been studying moon-base and Mars-mission proposals for five years, the agency refuses to give a cost estimate -- a sure sign the plans cannot pass a giggle test. Considering the space station price was $100 billion for a limited facility that was not accelerated to the speed necessary to reach the moon -- speed means fuel which means higher price -- even a Spartan moon base easily could cost several hundred billion dollars. For what? Why, for "economic expansion"! Today, no one is interested in economic expansion at Earth's poles, which are far more amenable to life than the moon, have copious resources, and can be reached at one-ten thousandth the cost of reaching the moon.

What about Mars? That planet is fascinating, and people are sure to go there someday. But until there is a fundamental breakthrough in propulsion, Mars travel will be ultra-expensive and extremely impractical. Today's chemical rockets are little different from those of the Apollo era, meaning the great cost of getting weight into orbit and then to escape velocity, coupled with long travel times, remains a high barrier to any Mars mission.

The fastest trajectory available with current propulsion is a 520-day Mars mission, and that only gets you 30 days on Mars -- the rest is transit time. Now think about weight. The Apollo vehicle, which was 45 tons at departure from low-Earth orbit, carried three people on a maximum mission of 13 days. That's 1.1 tons per person per day. A Mars-bound mission would require less fuel per day, but a lot more weight for supplies, interior volume, multiple redundant systems and radiation shielding that was not required for moon flight. Interior volume is essential. The crew was strapped into seats in the Apollo command module; they couldn't even stand up. For a nearly two-year voyage, the crew will need to be able to get up and walk (or float) around to avoid going bonkers. The Russian and European space agencies recently locked volunteers into a spacecraft-like big chamber to see how long they could stand it; they were able to stand it for 105 days, a fifth of the length of the fastest possible Mars mission. (Hilariously, the agencies announced the volunteers "simulated a 105-day Mars mission full of experiments and realistic mission scenarios." This scenario is "realistic" only using warp drive.)


Any Mars craft will need to provide at least some private space for each crew member, and a decent exercise facility, to stave off the muscle loss and bone decay that is triggered by zero-gee. At least one fully equipped surgical theater will be required. Loads of spare parts and loads of equipment to use on the Martian surface will be needed, versus Apollo, which carried no spare parts and no equipment beyond a small, short-range dune buggy. (Most likely a Mars mission would not be a single vehicle -- unmanned cargo craft would go first, and people would not leave until supplies were in place -- but the weight's the same regardless of whether it's a single vehicle or a collection of launches.) Considering these things, the 1.1 tons per person per day of Apollo may prove conservative for a Mars mission.

Anyway, suppose that number is right. Assume a Mars crew of six people -- two astronauts, two scientists and two surgeons -- on a 520-day Mars mission. (Two surgeons are needed in case one of them gets injured.) Based on the Apollo experience, our six-person Mars mission gone 520 days would weigh about 3,400 tons at departure from orbit. That's approximately the displacement of an Oliver Hazard Perry class guided-missile frigate, and we are not launching a frigate to Mars anytime soon.

My weight estimate didn't pop out of the sky. These numbers have been debated by specialists for decades, and have not changed much by recent tech developments -- for example, electronics are a lot lighter now than in the Apollo era, but since electronics compromised less than 1 percent of Apollo's weight, new miniature stuff does not do much for weight. Two-thirds to three-quarters of the mission weight will be fuel, and fuel weight hasn't changed. In the 1950s, Apollo designer Werner von Braun projected that a Mars mission would weigh 3,700 tons. In the 1960s, von Braun supposed the mission could weigh 1,600 tons if nuclear propulsion was developed, but that hasn't yet happened. Discovery One, the imaginary planetary spaceship in the 1968 movie "2001: A Space Odyssey," was described as weighing 5,400 tons, which oddly sounds about right. In 2007, a NASA workshop supposed a Mars mission might weigh only 400 tons, an utterly unrealistic budgetary lowball number.

The true numbers are budget busters! Because it costs about $20 million to place a ton of anything into low-Earth orbit, the heavier the Mars craft, the higher the price. Merely placing into orbit the 3,400 tons of a conjectured mission would cost about $70 billion. That's just the launch cost -- construction of the spaceship is extra! If space station total costs are a basic guide, the full price of a 3,400-ton Mars mission would be $1 trillion. Converted to today's dollars, the entire Apollo program -- not one mission, the entire program -- cost about $140 billion.

Now you see why NASA won't estimate prices.


The shame is that while NASA toys with monumental waste of tax dollars on a moon base and speaks of a Mars mission it knows full well is inconceivable using current propulsion, the agency is not even considering two space initiatives that could return tangible benefits to taxpayers: protection against asteroids and space solar power. Sunlight collected in space where its energy value is far higher than on the ground, then beamed to Earth as microwaves, might provide a long-term fossil-free solution to the planet's energy needs. No one knows if space solar power is practical. But NASA won't as much as fund a demonstration project; all money must go to moon base subsidies and Mars plans.

Aware its current course makes no sense, NASA may soon roll out the reddest of red herrings -- we've got to go back to the moon to beat the Chinese and the Indians. During the Cold War, no one questioned NASA spending because national prestige was involved. Why must we "beat" China and India to something we already did 40 years ago? If China or India beats us to space solar power -- now, that would hurt.

I've thought for a while that NASA is kind of a waste of money. I know that people have strong feelings about mankind's destiny in space, so what say you: NASA rules and we belong in space, or it's a big waste of money and time that could be better spent on more practical pursuits?

Peen on
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    Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2009
    We belong in space, but fuck NASA. Burn it to the ground, and start from scratch.

    Bionic Monkey on
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    TomantaTomanta Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    We belong in space, but fuck NASA. Burn it to the ground, and start from scratch.

    I'm fairly in line with this. NASA does some things absolutely brilliantly. And other things are downright terribly managed. Just HOW long have they been working in the next-gen shuttle to not even have a rough design?

    Tomanta on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Yeah, easterbrook basically throws out a bunch of big intimidating numbers, then claims it's all useless because we don't know exactly how things will work.

    He actually manages to write that entire mess without making an actual argument. Space exploration is expensive and the results are uncertain, so... what? One imagines that if NASA were researching orbital solar energy, he would be ranting about the lack of plans for a mars mission.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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    PeenPeen Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    He does rant and not necessarily get to a point and that's a weakness of his. But I was pleased to have numbers to add to what I already thought, namely that NASA's wasting a shit-ton of money with really nebulous goals; if they had discovered anything awesome and/or mildly practical, I'd feel very differently.

    Peen on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    He does rant and not necessarily get to a point and that's a weakness of his. But I was pleased to have numbers to add to what I already thought, namely that NASA's wasting a shit-ton of money with really nebulous goals; if they had discovered anything awesome and/or mildly practical, I'd feel very differently.

    I imagine people in 1961 wondering why we bothered with sending people into earth orbit when our boosters were already sufficient to fire ICBMs.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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    QuetzatcoatlQuetzatcoatl Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    They are wasting a lot of money, and they do need some concrete goals, but put the money they are using into perspective. A few billion is not that much compared to what is spent on other parts of the budget, they are what, 1% of the federal budget?

    I think their inefficiencies point more towards problems that plague all government organizations, lobbying and politics in general cause money to be used a lot less efficiently than it could be.

    From that space exploration seems like it is something better left to private businesses that do not have to worry about lobbying and do have to worry about actually getting something done. Unfortunately there aren't any really profitable reasons to go into space.

    Quetzatcoatl on
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    ProPatriaMoriProPatriaMori Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Science is done on ISS (particularly compelling is the actual building and maintenance of an orbiting structure, which is still somewhat difficult it turns out).

    Science was done on the moon, beyond just driving around in the rover. It's really easy to argue against something when you ignore everything it's done.

    ProPatriaMori on
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    PeenPeen Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    My problem is that NASA seems to have no clear idea of what they're doing or why; that could just be a failure of public relations or it could be an actual institutional failure but at any rate I know I'm not the only one that thinks that.

    Peen on
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    [Tycho?][Tycho?] As elusive as doubt Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I can't really comment on NASA as an organization, except that it gets a lot of flak from pretty much all comers which leads me to believe its got some problems. On the other hand, its far and above the most successful space organization in the world, and got men to the moon inside a decade. Which is pretty good.

    While I really like space, I don't feel the time is right for manned space travel. Keep up with the probes; they're comparatively cheap and allow us to learn and incredible amount about our universe. Just check out the Voyager probes, the Martian rovers or the Cassini-Huygens probe for examples of just how cool unmanned missions can be. Oh, and space telescopes of course.

    Manned space travel is obscenely expensive, and not terribly productive. Humans just can't do a lot in space right now. We go up, chill in a space station and play with freefall, then come back and recover from the ordeal. If you want human exploration look to the ocean. Most of it is unexplored, and we know there's life down there, all kinds of mysterious life that nobody has ever seen before. For a fraction the cost of space travel we could travel beneath the waves instead.

    I think manned space travel will only really get into gear when there is a clear economic incentive for doing so. Namely; asteroid mining. Asteroids can have a huge amount of valuable metals; if someone can figure out how to get to it, mine it, and send it back to Earth there is a fortune to be made. A moon base is a ridiculous idea, so many better things to build. There will be no humans on Mars in the next 20 years, probably longer. Its too damn far away.

    [Tycho?] on
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    LindenLinden Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    As a counterpoint, I'd like to present Phil Plait.
    Obama champions science... but where's NASA?
    We need a modern Apollo Program
    The Future of NASA

    Yes, I know one's in the New York Post. Deal with it.
    One point I'm seeing come up is that a lot of NASA's difficulties are the product of underfunding. Including the ISS - on that note, have we forgotten Mir?

    Linden on
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    DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    There is a lot of actually interesting and important scientific experiments taking place in space.

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/science/experiments/Expedition.html

    I think having manned space missions is important but we should be putting people in space as a means to achieving something, not a goal in and of itself.

    Dman on
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    themightypuckthemightypuck MontanaRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    It seems to me that unmanned space missions will be a better idea for a long time. People are way too fragile. It's too bad because I'd love for there to be a manned Mars mission in my lifetime. I love Phil Plait but he makes absolutely no sense to me regarding this subject.

    themightypuck on
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    DmanDman Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    /snip
    Asteroids can have a huge amount of valuable metals; if someone can figure out how to get to it, mine it, and send it back to Earth there is a fortune to be made. A moon base is a ridiculous idea, so many better things to build. There will be no humans on Mars in the next 20 years, probably longer. Its too damn far away.

    I always understood the main value of mining in space and asteroids in particular isn't the minerals themselves but the fact that they are already in space and the cost of transporting material from earth into orbit is prohibitive. I doubt we will ever be sending minerals from space to earth.

    Dman on
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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I would think the distance between earth and asteroids would be the biggest hurdle.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
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    KiplingKipling Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    [Tycho?] wrote: »
    I can't really comment on NASA as an organization, except that it gets a lot of flak from pretty much all comers which leads me to believe its got some problems. On the other hand, its far and above the most successful space organization in the world, and got men to the moon inside a decade. Which is pretty good.

    NASA itself can't commit to being one NASA. NASA has four science segments, and the three outer space ones hate the Earth Science segment. They are the ones who try to monitor the planet with orbiting satellites and models of climate, air pollution, etc. The other three are the looking outward (Sun, Planets, Universe), which hate projects that look inward.

    It is a big collection of scientists proposing multimillion/billion dollar projects, and the knives come out to defend a project when another looks like it could take away their money. The Constellation project (replace Space Shuttle) has had multiple groups try to abort the process years after the design was chosen.

    Some (All?) of this was probably due to the last Bush NASA director, who was a gigantic asshole.

    Kipling on
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    MelksterMelkster Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    My opinion on the whole issue of space flight is this: We really shouldn't care about producing practical results in the real world, such as hauling back rocks from the Asteroid belt. I mean, after all, science is about figuring things out just for the sake of figuring things out. It's about exploration. It's about discovery, and advancing this human adventure.

    Sure, there need to be limits, but those limits should be decently high. What's the point of being human anyway, if not to learn for the sake of learning? Explore for the sake of exploring?

    Sigh. Maybe I sound like something of a romanticist, but I certainly think that there ought to be a much higher focus on the sciences and exploration, and space flight in particular. Perhaps this is the humanism speaking, but I genuinely think that space is our ultimate future, eventually, if the human race is to continue. And there's certainly no time like the present.

    Anyway, those are my rants.

    Melkster on
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    DetharinDetharin Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Personally I think part of the problem with NASA is that they seem to lack to coherent goal. You tell them "We want a man on mars, make it happen." and then toss money at them you will get a man on mars. You tell them "Here is 16 billion dollars, do something spacey" and they will tear each other to pieces fighting for funding for their own pet projects.

    Frankly I think the moon has unobtanium, and we need to get us some of it.

    Detharin on
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    Undead ScottsmanUndead Scottsman Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Since 2004, NASA has said its next goal is a manned outpost on the moon, as a stepping-stone to manned travel to Mars. There's nothing a person could do on the airless, lifeless lunar surface that a tele-robot operated from a Houston office building could not do at a fraction of the price and risk. And the moon has nothing to do with Mars. Any Mars-bound mission will leave directly from low-Earth orbit to the Red Planet: stopping at the moon, then blasting off again, would consume the mission's fuel to accomplish nothing.


    I thought the whole point of this idea was tied in with water on the moon: in that it's a shitton easier to launch a vessel from Earth with just enough fuel to get to the moon, and once there, they use fuel derived from moon water to go to Mars: the fuel consumed from launching twice is offset by the fact that it's much cheaper to launch a fuel-laden ship from the Moon than from Earth.

    Undead Scottsman on
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    ScottyScotty Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I've been to Mars, not that great. (except for the 3 titted women)

    Scotty on
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    ronzoronzo Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    i'm fairly sure a shit-load of what they guy wrote is just about as wrong as some of the low balled number nasa comes up with

    also, about the de-orbiting of the ISS. 1) stuff gets de-orbited all the fucking time and 2)a lot of the time its more cost effective to do so

    most people erronously believe that once you get something into orbit, it's going to stay about where it is forever. I mean there's no gravity there right? this is wrong. Things drift, gravity pulling on the object will cause them to lose speed. So, you have to plan for this, by having some way of boost and correcting the orbit of whatever satillite you put there. due to the nature of how precise placement of these things usually needs to be, and the realities of how much a payload can way, this means that you probably only have enough fuel to reposition a fixed number of times. when fuel runs out, the orbit will eventually degrade to the point where it re-enters the atmosphere and burns up. Sometimes, due to previous orbit and speed and the variations in how the orbit will degrade, the object may actually stay in one piece as it falls and could very well damage something if it falls in the wrong spot. So, instead of letting your object of signifigate size just run out of fuel and fall randomly, you use your last bit of fuel to nudge it on a path that should let it crash out of harms way.

    The only way to avoid the above is to send something else out there to manually refuel or reposition the object. Most of the time, it would cost so much to do this you could just build a new object with current tech that does a hell of a lot more, so you let the old one deorbit and die, and put a new one in its place. As an example, every time we went to repair the hubble, we boosted it back into a better orbit using the orbiter, but for cost reasons, this is hardly a practical idea

    To come back to the original point about de-orbiting the ISS: we knew it was going to happen and theres very little we could realistically do to prevent it. We put it in one of the highest orbits possible that can be reached by both the shuttle and the russians carrying the large payloads needed to build and supply the station. It's fucking massive, the single biggest thing we've got in orbit. It can't exactly be easily boosted back into a bigger orbit. It's just too expensive for the most part, and technology will hopefully allow us to build a comparable station better and cheaper when it comes time for it to die. also, because of its large size, theres no way in hell we can allow it to fall out of orbit on its own, we have to de-oribit it like Mir so we dont accidentally crash the damn thing into a major city or something

    dude needs to know exactly what he's talking about before he complains about why we do certain things


    Feux edit: also, another thing that NASA does thats about to get fucked. You know those awesome deep range space probes we send to the out planets and beyond? the ones that everyone pretty much agrees are a good thing and should keep going (send more robots, not people ideally)

    yeah, you can kiss those goodbye soon. NASA's running out of the Plutonium isotope (i want to P-239) that it uses to atomically power craft that can't use solar power. It's expensive and very hard to find these days because it's a by-product of nuclear reactors that we as a country hate, and its also part of a major stepping stone to nuclear weapons. NASA needs more of it, and just like the medical guys you need more of that one isotope for caner screening (i want to say techecium 90 or something), they are having a bitch of a time getting funding for it

    ronzo on
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    CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Detharin wrote: »
    Personally I think part of the problem with NASA is that they seem to lack to coherent goal. You tell them "We want a man on mars, make it happen." and then toss money at them you will get a man on mars. You tell them "Here is 16 billion dollars, do something spacey" and they will tear each other to pieces fighting for funding for their own pet projects.

    Frankly I think the moon has unobtanium, and we need to get us some of it.
    Winner! (Well, except for that last part.) NASA needs to be told to do something big by someone with the authority to make it stick. One of the big problems with NASA is that our government (and its priorities, its people, and its concerns) change every couple years. It's damn near impossible to do anything long-term when the next guy to waltz into office might cancel it.
    I thought the whole point of this idea was tied in with water on the moon: in that it's a shitton easier to launch a vessel from Earth with just enough fuel to get to the moon, and once there, they use fuel derived from moon water to go to Mars: the fuel consumed from launching twice is offset by the fact that it's much cheaper to launch a fuel-laden ship from the Moon than from Earth.
    Actually this doesn't really work out so well. For one you can't aerobrake into Lunar orbit so you have to waste fuel slowing down to get to the moon. It can cost more propellant to get to the Lunar surface than the Martian surface, as strange as that sounds.


    The article in the OP is ridiculous, though. His criticisms of the moon outpost are more or less right, but he goes off the rails past that point. There are plenty of cost estimates for a mission to Mars, and most are in the $50 billion range, spread out over years. And the part at the end where his idea of a useful space program is space solar power and asteroid defense? Those are probably the two reasons most often and most incorrectly mentioned by people who don't know shit about spaceflight. Well, along with "preserve the species in case of a disaster", which he thankfully didn't mention.

    CycloneRanger on
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    TriskaidekaphiliacTriskaidekaphiliac __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2009
    Probably better to just build a huge ass telescope in Antarctica. Just as good as Hubble if not better.

    Triskaidekaphiliac on
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    Bionic MonkeyBionic Monkey Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited October 2009
    They are wasting a lot of money, and they do need some concrete goals, but put the money they are using into perspective. A few billion is not that much compared to what is spent on other parts of the budget, they are what, 1% of the federal budget?

    My problem with them wasting money isn't "ZOMG QUIT WASTING TAX MONEYZ!" but more irritation at what they could accomplish with that money if so much of it wasn't wasted on bureaucracy and metric/standard fuck ups.

    Bionic Monkey on
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    CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Probably better to just build a huge ass telescope in Antarctica. Just as good as Hubble if not better.
    Uh, no.

    CycloneRanger on
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    ronzoronzo Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Probably better to just build a huge ass telescope in Antarctica. Just as good as Hubble if not better.

    you know that thing we have that lets us breath? you know, the atmosphere?

    it kind of makes it a bitch to get picture and information like the hubble gets us here on the surface. Thats part of the reason why, despite the huge cost involved, and having add an entire extra mission to last flights of the shuttle, we sent a repair crew to fix it and upgrade it as much as possible. When we lose the hubble and dont have a replacement, its going to be a huge blow to astronomy

    ronzo on
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    CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    They are wasting a lot of money, and they do need some concrete goals, but put the money they are using into perspective. A few billion is not that much compared to what is spent on other parts of the budget, they are what, 1% of the federal budget?

    My problem with them wasting money isn't "ZOMG QUIT WASTING TAX MONEYZ!" but more irritation at what they could accomplish with that money if so much of it wasn't wasted on bureaucracy and metric/standard fuck ups.
    Oh that old canard isn't even accurate. The fuckup in question actually happened due to the spacecraft's operations team being switched out for new guys at a critical moment and a whole cascade of mistakes and ill judgments made thereafter. There were plenty of opportunities to correct that mistake that weren't taken advantage of for various reasons.

    If you want something to point at and go "man, what a waste" read a bit about the parasitic relationship between the Shuttle and the ISS. That whole situation is such a shame.

    CycloneRanger on
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    TriskaidekaphiliacTriskaidekaphiliac __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2009
    ronzo wrote: »
    Probably better to just build a huge ass telescope in Antarctica. Just as good as Hubble if not better.

    you know that thing we have that lets us breath? you know, the atmosphere?

    it kind of makes it a bitch to get picture and information like the hubble gets us here on the surface. Thats part of the reason why, despite the huge cost involved, and having add an entire extra mission to last flights of the shuttle, we sent a repair crew to fix it and upgrade it as much as possible. When we lose the hubble and dont have a replacement, its going to be a huge blow to astronomy

    Not really. There are places in Antarctica that basically have 0 weather. I've been there. The sky and the stars are so clear that you could easily seem them crisp and clean. The lack of moisture in the air means you can see pretty damn good when there is no light.

    Triskaidekaphiliac on
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    ronzoronzo Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    it would be useful to have people on the moon for two reasons: scientific research, and if it could be used as a fueling station of sorts for other missions. Without the second, its much harder to justify the cost of the whole venture, which is why so much effort has been made of late to figure if the second part is viable or not

    ronzo on
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    YougottawannaYougottawanna Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    What's wrong with orbital solar power? I always thought that was one of the spacey things that could be driven by the profit motive and I was therefore more optimistic about it.

    Yougottawanna on
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    ronzoronzo Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    ronzo wrote: »
    Probably better to just build a huge ass telescope in Antarctica. Just as good as Hubble if not better.

    you know that thing we have that lets us breath? you know, the atmosphere?

    it kind of makes it a bitch to get picture and information like the hubble gets us here on the surface. Thats part of the reason why, despite the huge cost involved, and having add an entire extra mission to last flights of the shuttle, we sent a repair crew to fix it and upgrade it as much as possible. When we lose the hubble and dont have a replacement, its going to be a huge blow to astronomy

    Not really. There are places in Antarctica that basically have 0 weather. I've been there. The sky and the stars are so clear that you could easily seem them crisp and clean. The lack of moisture in the air means you can see pretty damn good when there is no light.

    it not the fucking weather you dumbass. I mean, if that was the only problem, then the dudes who are 13,000 ft above sea level would never have a problem.

    the fucking atmosphere itself is the problem

    ronzo on
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    ronzoronzo Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    What's wrong with orbital solar power? I always thought that was one of the spacey things that could be driven by the profit motive and I was therefore more optimistic about it.

    how the fuck do you get it to us in meaningful quantities?

    ronzo on
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    CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    ronzo wrote: »
    Probably better to just build a huge ass telescope in Antarctica. Just as good as Hubble if not better.

    you know that thing we have that lets us breath? you know, the atmosphere?

    it kind of makes it a bitch to get picture and information like the hubble gets us here on the surface. Thats part of the reason why, despite the huge cost involved, and having add an entire extra mission to last flights of the shuttle, we sent a repair crew to fix it and upgrade it as much as possible. When we lose the hubble and dont have a replacement, its going to be a huge blow to astronomy

    Not really. There are places in Antarctica that basically have 0 weather. I've been there. The sky and the stars are so clear that you could easily seem them crisp and clean. The lack of moisture in the air means you can see pretty damn good when there is no light.
    Oh, I know! Why don't we just build a telescope in Colorado and then operate it only on clear days? That'd get the same result for cheaper, eh?

    Of course, the reality is that your eyes are nowhere near precise enough to be interfered with significantly by the atmosphere except when it's really acting up. Ever looked up at the stars and seen them twinkle? It happens even on clear days. That's because the atmosphere is fucking with the image. To get really precise (and when you're magnifying shit like a million times you need precision) you need a vacuum. We can do a lot to correct the image with computer algorithms and laser measurements of atmospheric conditions, but it's still nowhere near as good as actually getting the miles and miles of shit between you and your subject out of the way.

    CycloneRanger on
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    CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    What's wrong with orbital solar power? I always thought that was one of the spacey things that could be driven by the profit motive and I was therefore more optimistic about it.
    You need a huge (and I mean huge) amount of shit in orbit to produce a meaningful quantity of power, and then you need an even huger amount of shit to transmit and receive it. We're talking about antennae tens of miles long and hundreds of thousands of tons worth of equipment that need to be launched into orbit. It's just way too expensive to work right now.

    It is potentially useful for getting power to remote parts of the Earth, though, where power is currently extremely expensive. Of course, you could just build a power plant in [wherever] for less money.

    CycloneRanger on
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    KiplingKipling Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    ronzo wrote: »
    Probably better to just build a huge ass telescope in Antarctica. Just as good as Hubble if not better.

    you know that thing we have that lets us breath? you know, the atmosphere?

    it kind of makes it a bitch to get picture and information like the hubble gets us here on the surface. Thats part of the reason why, despite the huge cost involved, and having add an entire extra mission to last flights of the shuttle, we sent a repair crew to fix it and upgrade it as much as possible. When we lose the hubble and dont have a replacement, its going to be a huge blow to astronomy

    Not really. There are places in Antarctica that basically have 0 weather. I've been there. The sky and the stars are so clear that you could easily seem them crisp and clean. The lack of moisture in the air means you can see pretty damn good when there is no light.
    Oh, I know! Why don't we just build a telescope in Colorado and then operate it only on clear days? That'd get the same result for cheaper, eh?

    Of course, the reality is that your eyes are nowhere near precise enough to be interfered with significantly by the atmosphere except when it's really acting up. Ever looked up at the stars and seen them twinkle? It happens even on clear days. That's because the atmosphere is fucking with the image. To get really precise (and when you're magnifying shit like a million times you need precision) you need a vacuum. We can do a lot to correct the image with computer algorithms and laser measurements of atmospheric conditions, but it's still nowhere near as good as actually getting the miles and miles of shit between you and your subject out of the way.

    Antarctica could help cool a low-noise CCD camera, but space does a pretty good job there too.

    For the fancy computer algorithm this is probably the best: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucky_imaging

    Note the Hubble's black versus the ground based image noise and airglow. This also doesn't work for any wavelength that the planet's atmosphere significantly absorbs, which is a huge fraction of the available spectrum.

    Also, Mauna Kea isn't 33,000 ft above sea level. It is 13-14k ft above sea level.

    Kipling on
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    ronzoronzo Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Kipling wrote: »
    ronzo wrote: »
    Probably better to just build a huge ass telescope in Antarctica. Just as good as Hubble if not better.

    you know that thing we have that lets us breath? you know, the atmosphere?

    it kind of makes it a bitch to get picture and information like the hubble gets us here on the surface. Thats part of the reason why, despite the huge cost involved, and having add an entire extra mission to last flights of the shuttle, we sent a repair crew to fix it and upgrade it as much as possible. When we lose the hubble and dont have a replacement, its going to be a huge blow to astronomy

    Not really. There are places in Antarctica that basically have 0 weather. I've been there. The sky and the stars are so clear that you could easily seem them crisp and clean. The lack of moisture in the air means you can see pretty damn good when there is no light.
    Oh, I know! Why don't we just build a telescope in Colorado and then operate it only on clear days? That'd get the same result for cheaper, eh?

    Of course, the reality is that your eyes are nowhere near precise enough to be interfered with significantly by the atmosphere except when it's really acting up. Ever looked up at the stars and seen them twinkle? It happens even on clear days. That's because the atmosphere is fucking with the image. To get really precise (and when you're magnifying shit like a million times you need precision) you need a vacuum. We can do a lot to correct the image with computer algorithms and laser measurements of atmospheric conditions, but it's still nowhere near as good as actually getting the miles and miles of shit between you and your subject out of the way.

    Antarctica could help cool a low-noise CCD camera, but space does a pretty good job there too.

    For the fancy computer algorithm this is probably the best: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucky_imaging

    Note the Hubble's black versus the ground based image noise and airglow. This also doesn't work for any wavelength that the planet's atmosphere significantly absorbs, which is a huge fraction of the available spectrum.

    Also, Mauna Kea isn't 33,000 ft above sea level. It is 13-14k ft above sea level.

    my bad about about the height. I read the number from the sea-floor, not sea-level

    point still stands about the hubble being a unique tool whose usefulness cannot be fully replicated here on earth

    ronzo on
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    TriskaidekaphiliacTriskaidekaphiliac __BANNED USERS regular
    edited October 2009
    ronzo wrote: »
    Probably better to just build a huge ass telescope in Antarctica. Just as good as Hubble if not better.

    you know that thing we have that lets us breath? you know, the atmosphere?

    it kind of makes it a bitch to get picture and information like the hubble gets us here on the surface. Thats part of the reason why, despite the huge cost involved, and having add an entire extra mission to last flights of the shuttle, we sent a repair crew to fix it and upgrade it as much as possible. When we lose the hubble and dont have a replacement, its going to be a huge blow to astronomy

    Not really. There are places in Antarctica that basically have 0 weather. I've been there. The sky and the stars are so clear that you could easily seem them crisp and clean. The lack of moisture in the air means you can see pretty damn good when there is no light.
    Oh, I know! Why don't we just build a telescope in Colorado and then operate it only on clear days? That'd get the same result for cheaper, eh?

    Of course, the reality is that your eyes are nowhere near precise enough to be interfered with significantly by the atmosphere except when it's really acting up. Ever looked up at the stars and seen them twinkle? It happens even on clear days. That's because the atmosphere is fucking with the image. To get really precise (and when you're magnifying shit like a million times you need precision) you need a vacuum. We can do a lot to correct the image with computer algorithms and laser measurements of atmospheric conditions, but it's still nowhere near as good as actually getting the miles and miles of shit between you and your subject out of the way.

    whoa calm the fuck down bro

    stars don't twinkle in antarctica

    Triskaidekaphiliac on
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    enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Easterbrook is kind of a moron about things other than going for it on fourth down. And cherry picks his data in the worst way on pretty much every topic.

    enlightenedbum on
    Self-righteousness is incompatible with coalition building.
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    CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    ronzo wrote: »
    Probably better to just build a huge ass telescope in Antarctica. Just as good as Hubble if not better.

    you know that thing we have that lets us breath? you know, the atmosphere?

    it kind of makes it a bitch to get picture and information like the hubble gets us here on the surface. Thats part of the reason why, despite the huge cost involved, and having add an entire extra mission to last flights of the shuttle, we sent a repair crew to fix it and upgrade it as much as possible. When we lose the hubble and dont have a replacement, its going to be a huge blow to astronomy

    Not really. There are places in Antarctica that basically have 0 weather. I've been there. The sky and the stars are so clear that you could easily seem them crisp and clean. The lack of moisture in the air means you can see pretty damn good when there is no light.
    Oh, I know! Why don't we just build a telescope in Colorado and then operate it only on clear days? That'd get the same result for cheaper, eh?

    Of course, the reality is that your eyes are nowhere near precise enough to be interfered with significantly by the atmosphere except when it's really acting up. Ever looked up at the stars and seen them twinkle? It happens even on clear days. That's because the atmosphere is fucking with the image. To get really precise (and when you're magnifying shit like a million times you need precision) you need a vacuum. We can do a lot to correct the image with computer algorithms and laser measurements of atmospheric conditions, but it's still nowhere near as good as actually getting the miles and miles of shit between you and your subject out of the way.

    whoa calm the fuck down bro

    stars don't twinkle in antarctica
    I'm not agitated. If I calmed down any more I'd be asleep. Actually that doesn't sound so bad right now.

    Anyway, you're right that Antarctica has very clear air relative to other regions, but as Kipling has pointed out it's not clear enough. Your experience looking up into the sky just doesn't mirror the problems involved using an extremely high-precision scientific instrument.

    Besides, the Hubble is nearly 20 years old and it still outperforms most of our ground-based facilities. A newer space telescope would, I imagine, have even better performance.

    Also, everything mentioned about the advantages of orbital telescopes applies equally to telescopes on the lunar surface. That's one of the things the moon is actually really good for—provided you put the telescopes on the far side of the moon.

    CycloneRanger on
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    srsizzysrsizzy Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    whoa calm the fuck down bro

    stars don't twinkle in antarctica
    you don't really know what you're talking about. it's probably best not to enter a scientific discussion when you don't know what you're talking about.

    I don't know enough about the potential experiments that could go underway right now, but I think we need to be doing things in space merely for the fact that if we stop trying to push the technology further, it won't progress to a point to where it's useful.

    I also think all of our attention should be on nanotechnology though, so I don't know. Maybe we need some priorities, but everyone's pretty concerned with practical things like military and edumacation and socialis-- I mean healthcare.

    Why do we need to worry about these things when nanobots would solve all of them? I say we halt the progress of society and focus everyone on figuring out nanobots.

    srsizzy on
    BRO LET ME GET REAL WITH YOU AND SAY THAT MY FINGERS ARE PREPPED AND HOT LIKE THE SURFACE OF THE SUN TO BRING RADICAL BEATS SO SMOOTH THE SHIT WILL BE MEDICINAL-GRADE TRIPNASTY MAKING ALL BRAINWAVES ROLL ON THE SURFACE OF A BALLS-FEISTY NEURAL RAINBOW CRACKA-LACKIN' YOUR PERCEPTION OF THE HERE-NOW SPACE-TIME SITUATION THAT ALL OF LIFE BE JAMMED UP IN THROUGH THE UNIVERSAL FLOW BEATS
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    ronzoronzo Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    to counter the "plan" for going to mars laid out by the idiot quoted in the OP you guys should probably read this

    ronzo on
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