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27 November 2013 12:59 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
The new head of the National Center for Science Education promises to "fight the good fight" against attacks on...
Analyses of the H7N9 strains isolated from four new cases show that the virus is evolving rapidly, heightening anxiety...
In 2009, Jack Szostak shared a Nobel Prize for his part in discovering the role of telomeres, the end bits of...
Science has exposed a thriving academic black market in China involving shady agencies, corrupt scientists, and...
Paper-selling agencies flourish in the aura of reputable businesses. For some scientists, it may be difficult to tell...
Featuring the first lunar rover in 40 years, Chang'e-3 is seen as an important milestone on China's quest to send a...
Data collected by satellites and floating probes have chronicled a 2-decade rise in the temperature and thickness of a...
Cholesterol, the artery-clogging molecule that contributes to cardiovascular disease, has another nasty trick up its...
- 27 November 2013 12:59 pm , Vol. 342 , #6162
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NASA Narrows Possible Uses for Former Spy Telescopes
6 June 2013 5:25 pm
NASA has decided that the best use of two space telescopes gifted to it by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO)—an intelligence gathering agency—would be to utilize them in a mission to study dark energy and extrasolar planets. Provided the agency can find the money to fund that mission: the proposed Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).
NASA began mulling what to do with the two 2.4-meter telescopes nearly 2 years ago, after NRO handed the instruments over to the space agency. An initial study by a group of astrophysicists determined that one of the telescopes could be used as a centerpiece of the $1.6 billion WFIRST project, which received top billing among space projects recommended for funding in the most recent U.S. astronomy decadal survey.
Earlier this year, however, NASA hosted a meeting where astronomers and planetary scientists were invited to present other ideas for using the telescopes. There was no dearth of concepts. One idea was to put one of the telescopes in orbit around Mars. Another was to dedicate the instrument to gamma ray astronomy.
After studying all these options, NASA has decided that the only one it wishes to pursue at this time is using the telescope for WFIRST, Paul Hertz, the head of NASA's astrophysics division, announced on Tuesday at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Indianapolis. However, whether WFIRST will happen at all or not remains an open question, he said—and it won't get decided until at least 2016.