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Thread: Astronomy in fifty years time...

  1. #1
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    Astronomy in fifty years time...

    Reading about the GAIA data release got me wondering about the future. The equipment these days seem to be hoovering up all there is to know. Are we in for decades of processing all this stuff. But then I think of the space industry who want to keep sending more probes out there. Is this the incentive to keep on. Sometimes I wonder if it is astronomers who want a thirty metre telescope or whether the engineers make themselves known to the people with the money and state what they can achieve if anyone is interested. But it is great is it not

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    But it is great is it not
    Yes Great, indeed Fantastic! Growing up during the pre-space probe era while just guessing at what to find on the surfaces of other planets and moons seems like light years ago and many years of priceless info since. Hurray for the more recent era of billionaires who are truly interested in expanding our knowledge of all these things unknown.....and maybe if they're lucky making a buck on the side ;-)

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    Thread moved from OTB to Astronomy
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteshimmon View Post
    Sometimes I wonder if it is astronomers who want a thirty metre telescope or whether the engineers make themselves known to the people with the money and state what they can achieve if anyone is interested. But it is great is it not
    I think different astronomers may want different things, depending on what they are studying, but I really doubt the engineers are just looking for ways to spend money and are forcing the astronomers to use things they don't really want.

    Looking at how difficult it is to get funding, and how many missions get canceled for lack of money, that actually seems a nonsensical idea.
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    I agree with Swift on this matter. But if one were to replace "astronomers" with "human spaceflight supporters", and "engineers" with "US Congress members", there might be merit in the OP's idea. The several different versions of a US heavy booster rocket, and its ever-changing mission, do strike me as "construction projects in search of a mission."

  6. #6
    Well Gaia and TESS gives a lot more general knowledge such as how many stars there are pr either or not their might be something around the star. But you need years of data to figure stuff like period of a planet, what the magnetic and electric environment of the stellar system so they probably be some time before there is now work in astronomy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteshimmon View Post
    ... Sometimes I wonder if it is astronomers who want a thirty metre telescope or whether the engineers make themselves known to the people with the money and state what they can achieve if anyone is interested. But it is great is it not
    Considering that these proposals tend to be initiated by astronomers -- check out the documents for the OWL project, for example -- I think that blaming the engineers is, delicately, inappropriate. Everyone in the sciences wants better tools; these cost money.

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    Every 10 years the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey proposes the most urgent research which will need funding during the next 10 years.

    See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astron...Decadal_Survey
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    Well I read a book years ago about planet hunting. It start out with several groups have ideas for a telescope design, then they start up working groups and fight with each other for years over the final design. Then the engineers try to build it. A space telescope like Hubble took decades to come about, the first ie for it I think came about in the '40s but no real designs until the seventies and launched in 1990.
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    I am happy to be corrected in my musings. I suppose the groups who start these things must have the users input. And let me indulge my memories of the first success in planetary exploration. I was very young reading the family newspaper fifty plus years ago. A short article stated Venus was due to be probed that evening and scientists were brushing up on excuses if Mariner 2 did not work. It had got hot. I forgot about it and I was lying on the carpet when the nine o clock news came on. Beep Beep.. a spaceprobe has just sent back data about the planet Venus. It was the front page lead in the papers next morning. The cuttings are in a scrapbook somewhere. I obtained a volume many years later with stuff from ELECTRONICS magazine and it had an article on the radiometer on the probe. One of three project scientists was one C.Sagan of Berkeley.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peteshimmon View Post
    Reading about the GAIA data release got me wondering about the future. ...
    There are a lot of things to study in Astronomy... What we will be doing in 50 years depends a lot on what technology we develop between now and then. If robots and nano-technology advance at optimistic levels, you might see:
    - Several off world gravitational wave detectors similar to ALIGO (but more sensitive, and perhaps in varying sizes)
    - Large neutrino detectors in ice moons
    - Things like GAIA (only bigger and more sensitive) in Neptune's trojan points (L4 & L5)
    - Whole asteroids turned into gamma-ray observatories
    - Large space-built telescopes covering the spectrum from EUV to meter-wave radio.
    - Several large survey telescopes, like LSST only bigger and more sensitive.

    - If someone figures out how to detect Dark Matter directly, you might see some huge DM detectors to measure it.

    Will all that be happening within 50 years from now? Probably not quite, but it seems possible.
    Forming opinions as we speak

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    I have a slightly different perspective, one that I've just written up and posted to a Galaxy Zoo Talk thread (started by someone else), entitled "Another "discovery" that got away" (link).

    In short, there are already thousands of discoveries awaiting, in datasets that are already public; I think even with the best possible view of AI, there will likely be several orders of magnitude more such "missing" discoveries ...

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    Maybe SpaceX will be sending probes all over the Solar System in 2068.
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