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Nancy Grace Roman Telescope

blackstar

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The Wikipedia link says using a spare NRO telescope mirror

“.... provided important political momentum to the project, even though the telescope represents only a modest fraction of the cost of the mission and the boundary conditions from the NRO design may push the total cost over that of a fresh design.”

which was my point. I don’t think (or at least hope) nobody would propose a follow on Hubble just because a spare primary exists. WFIRST proposals may have sidetracked themselves using the spare mirror argument rather than sticking with a telescope design optimized for the requirements. If mapping dark energy effects is important, it can compete directly on that basis.

The original WFIRST mission proposal was for a much smaller mirror, the whole thing built from scratch. This would have been cheaper, according to just about everybody.

Former NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld (essentially the guy at NASA who was then in charge of all the science stuff) said a number of times in public that he could not find political support to fund that proposal. It was not until after the NRO mirror became available that the political leadership (White House, Congress) became interested in WFIRST. So, according to Grunsfeld, it was the case of do you want the original proposal, which nobody is going to fund, or do you want this new one, which is different, and will cost more, but which people will fund?

Now there are people who disagreed with Grunsfeld and argued that NASA should have stuck to the original specifications, but they were not in the position that he was. He saw the funding situation differently.

The new much larger WFIRST mirror does some different science than the original proposal. Essentially, it trades off looking farther into the infrared (because the mirror cannot get colder) in return for much larger collection area. So some scientists are unhappy with the loss of the farther IR, and some scientists are happy with the greater collecting power.

It's common to simply heap scorn on NASA and say that they cannot manage anything and keep it on cost. But who else does this stuff? Who is better at doing these things than NASA? These things are not easy to do. And this is a case where, at least according to a senior NASA official, the cheaper WFIRST option simply was not exciting enough to get funded. So do you want 100% of nothing or 80% of something? That was apparently the choice in this case.

(Oh, there are a lot more complicated aspects to this as well, like the number of instruments and how the astrophysics community uses these big telescopes. These are just the basic ones.)
 

fredymac

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The original WFIRST mission proposal was for a much smaller mirror, the whole thing built from scratch. This would have been cheaper, according to just about everybody.

Former NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate John Grunsfeld (essentially the guy at NASA who was then in charge of all the science stuff) said a number of times in public that he could not find political support to fund that proposal. It was not until after the NRO mirror became available that the political leadership (White House, Congress) became interested in WFIRST. So, according to Grunsfeld, it was the case of do you want the original proposal, which nobody is going to fund, or do you want this new one, which is different, and will cost more, but which people will fund?

Now there are people who disagreed with Grunsfeld and argued that NASA should have stuck to the original specifications, but they were not in the position that he was. He saw the funding situation differently.

The new much larger WFIRST mirror does some different science than the original proposal. Essentially, it trades off looking farther into the infrared (because the mirror cannot get colder) in return for much larger collection area. So some scientists are unhappy with the loss of the farther IR, and some scientists are happy with the greater collecting power.

It's common to simply heap scorn on NASA and say that they cannot manage anything and keep it on cost. But who else does this stuff? Who is better at doing these things than NASA? These things are not easy to do. And this is a case where, at least according to a senior NASA official, the cheaper WFIRST option simply was not exciting enough to get funded. So do you want 100% of nothing or 80% of something? That was apparently the choice in this case.

(Oh, there are a lot more complicated aspects to this as well, like the number of instruments and how the astrophysics community uses these big telescopes. These are just the basic ones.)


Who is better at doing these things? Let's find out and set up alternative approaches.

Science proposals compete to win approval based on the overall level of interest and available budget. WFIRST winning necessarily means other projects wait. WFIRST is not the only project examining dark energy/dark matter. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (now called Rubin Telescope) is also addressing this subject and is already well into hardware integration. The ESA Gaia space telescope also collects data pertinent to analyzing dark matter. WFIRST was competing as an additional experiment rather than a unique asset. Waiting to see the results of these other efforts could have revealed a genuine area of importance that could use a dedicated mission.
 

blackstar

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Who is better at doing these things? Let's find out and set up alternative approaches.

Science proposals compete to win approval based on the overall level of interest and available budget. WFIRST winning necessarily means other projects wait. WFIRST is not the only project examining dark energy/dark matter. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (now called Rubin Telescope) is also addressing this subject and is already well into hardware integration. The ESA Gaia space telescope also collects data pertinent to analyzing dark matter. WFIRST was competing as an additional experiment rather than a unique asset. Waiting to see the results of these other efforts could have revealed a genuine area of importance that could use a dedicated mission.

I suspect you don't understand how the prioritization is done and the money is then appropriated to different programs.

Also, WFIRST is more than dark energy/dark matter.
 

fredymac

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I suspect you don't understand how the prioritization is done and the money is then appropriated to different programs.

Also, WFIRST is more than dark energy/dark matter.


I'm not sure why you think selection of programs is so complex and nuanced that you couldn't just sum it up in a sentence or two. The politics of using the "spare telescope" however reveals it isn't any different than other government program awards.

As for the mission of WFIRST from their own website:
The Roman Space Telescope is a NASA observatory designed to unravel the secrets of dark energy and dark matter, search for and image exoplanets, and explore many topics in infrared astrophysics.

Dark Energy and Dark Matter are the hot topics that are drawing public interest and funding. Basically, any wide field telescope can engage in this activity and any telescope can be be applied to multiple purposes. I expect LSST will actually achieve more science in this regards.
 

Byeman

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Who is better at doing these things? Let's find out and set up alternative approaches.

I'm not sure why you think selection of programs is so complex and nuanced that you couldn't just sum it up in a sentence or two.

Because you don't even understand the context.
a. He means better at managing spacecraft development.
b. LSST doesn't enter the discussion because it is not space based.
c. Program selection meaning NASA spacecraft programs.
 

fredymac

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Because you don't even understand the context.
a. He means better at managing spacecraft development.
b. LSST doesn't enter the discussion because it is not space based.
c. Program selection meaning NASA spacecraft programs.


a. Like JWST
b. Same primary mission regardless
c. Of course. So what.

Try responding with something other than an ad hominem and which has some rational basis.
 
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