What if you were given a new Hubble telescope for free? How about two?
The astronomical community is
abuzz with just this opportunity as the US
National Reconnaissance Office
has unexpectedly transferred ownership of two space-qualified
Hubble-quality telescopes to NASA.
The usefulness of
these telescopes in addressing existing science
priorities has begun, but
preliminary indications hold that even one
of these telescope could be extremely
in searching for
extrasolar planets as well as
distant galaxies and
supernovas that could better explore the nature of dark energy.
Although they start out as free, making even one telescope
and fitting it with useful cameras would be quite expensive, so NASA
is being decidedly careful
about how to fit these new telescopes into its existing budget.
Pictured above, the original
Hubble Space Telescope floats high above the Earth during a servicing mission in 2002.