(Via PZ Myers’ Pharyngula) Bruce Garrett, a software engineer at the Space Telescope Science Institute reports (with an update here) on the first casualty of Preznit Dimwit’s determination boldly to go where, er, we’ve already been:
No more servicing missions to Hubble, as per the directive of the current head of NASA, Sean O’Keefe.
Hubble has six guidance gyros. But they fail at fairly regular and now predictable rates. Nearly every servicing mission to Hubble has replaced gyros as part of the work done. It needs three to do most of the science it now does, although there is a scheme in the works to do a greatly attenuated kind of science with two. We currently have four working gyros. Expectations were that we would almost certainly be down to two by the time the next servicing mission occurred, and possibly even down to one. So, figure, at around the time of what would have been the next servicing mission, Hubble will probably be no more, or soon, very soon, to expire.
Mainstream news (1, 2) also has the story.
That’s the Little Ghost nebula, the remains of a dying star called NGC 6369. I swiped it from the images gallery at Hubble’s homepage. Read, er, view ’em and weep. Deep space exploration just got deep-sixed for the time being.