Political Commentary, Space, Space Science, Technology and Society JWST January 24, 2022 Rand Simberg 22 Comments It’s arrived safely at ESL2. Do not let the technical success of Webb make anyone think that we should have done it that way, or should ever repeat it. The future must lie in space assembly, not origami.— SafeNotAnOption (@SafeNotAnOption) January 24, 2022
22 thoughts on “JWST”
For some reason I picture a guy wearing a black helmet, full face mask with breathing apparatus and a black cape, gloves and boots with two outstretched fingers in a pinching motion when I read this tweet.
You may dispense with the pleasantries, I’m here to put you back on schedule…
Rand: Perchance, you don’t own a red light saber do you?
But just think how big an origami you can fit in a Starship.
Hello Rand, thank you for cross posting your tweet on your blog. I enjoy reading your reasoning though am not on Twitter. Your tweet above is particularly important and brilliant.
It’s a lot easier to just embed a tweet than to rewrite the thought on the blog.
No need to be “on” Twitter. Find someone interesting, like this Rand fellow, and bookmark their Twitter feed. I prefer the tweets and replies tab. Then just visit the page and scroll through like normal.
Being “on” Twitter means you only get to read what they feed you and you will only be served a tiny fraction of what people you follow post. You end up going to someone’s Twitter page to see what they are up to anyway, so cut out the algorithm.
The only thing you miss is the interaction.
If they can operate the JWST continuously, 247/7, for the next 10 years, it will spread that initial cost out so that it’s only $114,000 per operational hour. The actual operating costs, and paying all the astronomers, simply disappears into the round-off error.
The Ariane V’s launch accuracy was so good that JWST arrived on station with considerably more propellant than had been predicted. NASA now estimates that it will last 20 years, instead of the original 10. That was the limiting factor.
So effectively, over the life of Webb, we’re down to the cost of two grad students working part-time?
And it has to work perfectly for those twenty years, as it’s supposedly impossible to service.
Hmm, maybe in 20 years there will still be MEVs or an alternative and JWST can live on indefinitely.
According to “experts,” any attempt to service JWST will destroy it, and besides it will be obsolete by then. Their answer is always, better to spend the monet on “the net telescope.” Which will probably take 40 years to design, build, and deploy. An entire career for several dozen someones.
Watching it go through those dozens of criticality one deployment steps, I thought, “That explains why it was so expensive.” Nothing could fail, and nothing did.
Thinking about Starlink and all those photos showing “streaks” blocking the sky (because non-atronomers never heard of timelapse, of course), I think pro astronomers are largely unaffected by satellites as they have mitigations in place, and ordinary amateurs peering through the eyepieces of expensive toys will only see moving dots, I realized the big problem is for amateur astrophotographers pursuing an expenive hobby. I wonder how much it would cost to set up an amateur orbital telescope platform, something like the ISS truss with space for hundreds of small teleoperated scopes to be timeshared by the high end amateurs. Maybe four or five Starships loads?
Nah, you are being overly pessimistic. Starlink trail removal software will be available to amateur astrophotographers that will remove these streaks as slick as any window cleaner. By doing field restoration on a series of still exposures taken on a frame by frame basis made possible by super fast CCD cameras. CCD astrophotography came out just in time to deal. With film, this would have been much more of a problem.
Software composition of a series of frames could not only correct for moving objects, it could correct for the telescope itself moving relative to the sky. Just the thing for amateurs with cheap mounts who want to get into astro-photography. It could also differentiate between satellites in orbit vs. asteroids and planets, and incorporate frames taken over several nights.
Youse’re probably right!
“something like the ISS truss with space for hundreds of small teleoperated scopes to be timeshared by”
That is a good idea.
That idea would require careful attention to vibration control. Moving one telescope could cause jitter in adjacent telescopes.
It would definitely take some planning, although electronic optics could take the place of little stepper motors.
How about putting a cell phone camera on every Starlink satellite and have a huge virtual optical interferometer?
That’s a pretty good idea too! Oh, Elon! Elon…!
Starlink Rev 3.0?
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