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"I'll take it you're a highly qualified astronomer then."<br />How many Earthlike planets Hubble detected ? How many is it able to detect.<br /><br />"I'll take it you're a highly qualified astronomer then"<br />Social communication and public relations student actually/among other things/.<br />Learned enough to know what really would boost space program in every space faring nation.<br />Guess what-Hubble won't be able to do it.
Hubble would be able to detect a near earth-size planet. According to David Charbonneau, one of the leading planet-hunters via the transit method, the photometric sensitivity of Hubble is such that it can even detect the presence of moons around transiting gas giants.<br /><br />Hubble can do this, but it requires staring at the same bit of sky for long periods. Hard to get that much observing time. <br /><br />This is why it is essential that Hubble be operating when Kepler, whose mission is to find transiting planets by staring at one part of the sky, is launched in 2008 and starts getting results in 2009.
RedGryphon,<br /><br />Not a bad rationale at all for maintaining Hubble. : )<br /><br />Besides, how do we know the TPF and SIM missions would not have been delayed, anyway, given how NASA is scrounging for cash? The mission to deorbit Hubble wouldn't have come cheap either. Keeping Hubble aloft seems a smarter way to spend the money than to spend space bucks on bringing it down.<br /><br />MrMorris,<br /><br /><i>Dunno about NASA, but the DoD would start spending big bucks on space defenses to 'protect' us from the evil alien neighbors that might be dropping by for a cup of tea. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /></i><br /><br />Sounds about right. One way or another, the detection of others 'out there' would give a boost to space down here.
In looking over the current issue of <i>Sky & Telescope</i>, I happened across this item:<br /><br /><b>Hard Times for Space Science</b> by Jonathan McDowell<br /><br />. . .<br />In today's NASA, lunar and Martian probes are expected to continue receiving preferred funding; future exoplanet missions like the Terrestrial Planet Finder have strong support, as does the infrared James Webb Telescope. Yet the outer planets, galactic and extragalactic astronomy, high-energy astrophysics, and cosmology programs have been under increased fiscal pressure. Flagship missions flying at the peak of their scientific return such as Hubble and the Chandra X-ray Observatory were recently hit with major cuts to their operating budgets.<br /><br />At least they fared better than older missions like Voyager. Budget makers have threatened to turn the probes off permanently to save a measly few million dollars a year....<br /><br />- from <i>Sky & Telescope</i>, vol. 110, no. 1, July 2005<br /><br />(See http://www.planet4589.org/space/jsr/jsr.html for other updates from Jonathan McDowell.)