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“It’s terrible,” says David Spergel, a Princeton University astrophysicist and cochair of the WFIRST science team, of the Trump administration’s recommendation to cut the mission. “We’re sort of abandoning leadership in space astronomy.”

 The proposal, released by the Trump admiistration Monday, recommends eliminating the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), citing “higher priorities” at NASA and the cost of the new telescope, according to The Atlantic.

 

NASA broke ground on WFIRST development in 2016. The mission was gifted a 2.4 meter telescope from the National Reconnaissance Office, an agency within the U.S. Department of Defense. The telescope would feed the mission’s main instrument, an imager designed to investigate dark energy, the mysterious substance astrophysicists believe makes up most of the universe. Another instrument, a coronagraph, would directly image and study the chemical compositions of exoplanets outside our solar system.

The president’s budget proposal has some troubling news for the space agency’s next big astronomy mission. The Trump administration has put dozens of federal programs on the chopping block, including a brand-new nasa space telescope that scientists say would provide the biggest picture of the universe yet, with the same sparkling clarity as the Hubble Space Telescope.

“Given competing priorities at nasa, and budget constraints, developing another large space telescope immediately after completing the $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope is not a priority for the administration,” the proposal states. “The budget proposes to terminate WFIRST and redirect existing funds to other priorities of the science community, including completed astrophysics missions and research.”

The James Webb Space Telescope is the NASA telescope that’s almost ready to go after two decades of work. The Webb is expected to launch in 2019 to a point 1 million miles from Earth, where it will study the cosmos in infrared light and provide images and data using a mirror far bigger than the one on Hubble, which launched in 1990. WFIRST is in line after Webb as nasa’s next flagship astronomy mission, and is currently in early stages of design and development. The mission would launch sometime in the mid-2020s.

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Comments

This is what you get with un-educated non scientist in charge of science programs.
I'm sure Jesus will show us the way....right?

Of course it is less expensive, and leaves a smaller carbon footprint shipping merchandise half way around the world.

If it is really redirecting the budget and not just nixing it, it appears to be better use of public money. How many telescopes are enough? never. Are there more innovative ways to use the money? certainly.

This type of funding redirection is historically typical of new administrations. The un-educated, non-scientist Obama redirected funds for space exploration (esp Mars) to earth sciences and "outreach" programs. Given Chinas publicly stated goals, he abdicated leadership on Mars exploration to China.

I love space and I love this stuff... but the article kinda hits the nail on the head with Trumps quote saying, developing another large space telescope immediately after completing the $8.8 billion James Webb Space Telescope is not a priority for the administration".

Yea... so for one... why would a telescope cost 8.8 BILLION dollars? I understand the perfection that is required for some of this stuff... but 8.8 seems very excessive. Even for 50 Million, it would seem a little much.

I agree with Trump that you just received 8.8 Billion, you're done getting money for a while so we can work on other things now.

When Benjamin Franklin harnessed lightning with a kite and key there were no practical uses for the electricity at the time. Most natural things that we discover aren't able to be put into use immediately. But we almost always use that information in later inventions. If we stop exploring and studying the universe we will be making our future stagnant.

What they really mean by 'not a priority' is that Trump would rather spend that money on developing more weapons of mass destruction either for sale or to hopefully kill lots of people (bad guys, you know, not white people in America, or maybe some of those too).

So with the Webb telescope we, the US taxpayers spent 8,800,000,000 dollars of borrowed money so that all the information it collects can be disseminated to the whole world.
Now ain't that special?
Let's do it again. It's only money and till it runs out we're good to go. Kinda the Bernie Sanders, Robert Mugabe and Hugo Chavez school of economics sort of thing. What could go wrong?

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