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Thread: China to launch a Hubble equivalent

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    China to launch a Hubble equivalent

    China is pushing ahead its space exploration ambitions. They have announced a space telescope, equivalent to the Hubble, to be positioned close to their space station for easy access for repairs and maintenance.

    http://en.people.cn/n3/2016/0307/c90000-9026485.html

    China is to launch an “optical module” along with the under-construction space station, said Zhang Yulin, Deputy to the National People’s Congress and Deputy Minister of Central Military Commission Equipment Development Department, on March 7, 2016. The “optical module” is similar to Hubble Space Telescope, but the field of view is 300 times that of Hubble.

    The module would maintain a certain distance to orbit with the space station. When suffers malfunction or needs maintenance, it will dock to the space station and be operated by astronauts, Zhang said. This will solve the problem Hubble has encountered, when NASA had to send up astronauts particularly to repair it. This special design of China’s space station makes in-orbit maintenance possible, and can thus bring the numerous defunct satellites to life, Zhang said.

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    Good for them, I hope it is great and will be better than Hubble because it is newer and uses better technology.
    Forming opinions as we speak

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    Quote Originally Posted by antoniseb View Post
    Good for them, I hope it is great and will be better than Hubble because it is newer and uses better technology.
    Hubble may be old, but it has been upgraded multiple time through its lifetime. Certainly there are things that you can do differently than Hubble due to technologies available today for a new development; the most recent Hubble instruments were still built over 10 years ago.

    However, the article states that the field of view will be 300 times larger than Hubble's. Unless the whole telescope is 300 times larger, which assuredly it is not, that means that it will have a very different scientific focus than Hubble. So, knowing the extent to which it is "similar" to Hubble will really depend on getting more information about the optical design and the planned instrumentation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amber Robot View Post
    ... the article states that the field of view will be 300 times larger than Hubble's. ...
    Right. The plan is to image a large swath of the sky (40% in ten years), with Hubble or better resolution (but probably not magnitude depth). This can be done with more modern sensors and a similar diameter mirror.
    Forming opinions as we speak

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    Quote Originally Posted by antoniseb View Post
    Right. The plan is to image a large swath of the sky (40% in ten years), with Hubble or better resolution (but probably not magnitude depth). This can be done with more modern sensors and a similar diameter mirror.
    There's a big difference between a telescope that maps a large swath of the sky and one that has a large field of view. The article stated that the "field of view" is 300 times larger than Hubble. That term has a very specific meaning for telescopes and, if true, it means a very different optical prescription and different mapping of resolution to pixels on a detector, unless the detector is also 300 times larger than the Hubble detectors.

    Is there a source for more information on this telescope other than the article linked to in the opening post?

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    Ok, I guess depending on the comparison (i.e., which of Hubble's instruments they are comparing to for FOV) they could be building a wide-field telescope with a large focal plane array to get 300 times the field of view with the same pixel resolution and a 2-2.5 meter primary, like Hubble's. I'd have to see the details. But, if you did that you'd probably dedicate the entire FOV to imaging and can't really compare to the all of Hubble's various instruments' capabilities.

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    It makes sense to actually have it near a service station--less need to wait for a whole new launch to fix it.

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    The idea of a telescope almost co-orbital with a station was kicked around at least back to the USSR's Gamma high-energy mission, which went through many iterations and wound up as an untended free-flyer. Makes sense if you have a way to rendezvous - berth (tug or thrusters on the science craft capable of bringing it to berthing if not docking), and the near-station environment isn't poisonous to delicate coatings (UV mirrors are notorious for having their reflectivity ruined by just about any contaminant; hence the concern about having HST's aperture cover open before release for later servicing missions). IIRC there was some planning for "cloud stations", crewed cores with independently-orbiting but reachable science module. (The Salyut-Mir Soyuz mission was the closest I can think of for what a servicing excursion would be like).

    (Come to think of, that famous Bonestell painting show a version of there Mt. Wilson telescope in space being built next to a classic wheel station, and that was painted in the mid-1950s).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amber Robot View Post
    Is there a source for more information on this telescope other than the article linked to in the opening post?
    None that I could find. There is a new article out with some images of the telescope. Hope you might be able to get more insight from it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amber Robot View Post
    Unless the whole telescope is 300 times larger
    That would be something to see!

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    The more, the merrier!
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Chinese Space Survey Telescope? plans to launch an orbiting telescope similar to the Hubble,
    https://twitter.com/yangchengkai/sta...96854230274051

    China wants to launch its own Hubble
    https://www.space.com/china-hubble-c...-space-station

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