38) Eyes Wide Shut

In the wake of the alarming Soviet Sputnik I launch in 1958, (from an American perspective), the United States of America (USA), under President Eisenhower, initiated the secret Corona satellite reconnaissance program managed jointly by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the US Air Force (USAF). The program arose as a concerted response to several significant Soviet advances in space technologies, resulting in 1960, with the launch of the USA’s own first spy satellite whose first images of the Soviet Union weren’t declassified until as late as 1995. Besides Sputnik the Soviet Union launched over 500 Zenit military spy satellites between 1961-1994, under the name Kosmos, typically having a spherical re-entry capsule 2.3m in diameter and a mass of about 2400kg. In due course the US government launched its first commercial satellite, the ERTS-1 (Earth Resources Technology Satellite)- later renamed Landsat, the first of a long series of successful earth observation satellites, and it is upon the twin pillars of civilian earth observation and military reconnaissance that modern humanitarian satellite imaging stands. For the first time, satellite imagery became available for non-military use, but ground resolution, by comparison with military surveillance satellite imagery, was extremely poor.

The Cold War birthed a number of revolutionary technologies, themselves conceived during or prior to the Second World War, such as satellite imaging and satellite communications- wonders of an age used almost exclusively by competing military forces across the divide of the Iron Curtain. Environmentally relevant imagery of our planet taken by such intelligence satellites was then highly classified, and relatively few people had access to the imagery. Although satellites were developed and used for diverse civilian applications, such civilian satellites were initially ‘behind the curve’ of military developments. 

In 2009 the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Defense (DoD) issued a joint press release saying they have put together a plan “to modernize the nation’s ageing satellite-imagery architecture by prudently evolving government-owned satellite designs and enhancing use of U.S. commercial providers. Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex.

In this way the technological advances in civilian imagery have turned full circle back into imagery provision for the military- very much dependent on the motives and aspirations of the military user.

The Hubble mission has cost approximately $16 billion (adjusted for inflation to 2021 dollars) since its official start in 1977. This does not include the cost of space shuttle operations for Hubble’s deployment and servicing missions.

Just for photos?
Image from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope Images.

The crisp, stunning images from the Hubble Space Telescope are a wonder to behold. As one can see in the image comparison below, Hubble’s views are significantly higher resolution than similar images obtained by ground-based observatories.

m51_comparison_detail-wiyn_hst-1000x1000
Ground-based (left) vs space-based (right) images of star-forming regions in the Whirlpool Galaxy. On the left is the view from the WIYN telescope at Kitt Peak in Arizona. On the right is the view from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Terrestrial telescopes must look through Earth’s atmosphere, which blurs the view and limits their resolution. Orbiting above Earth’s atmosphere, Hubble avoids that problem and can get a clearer view of the universe.

Actually Hubble is located in the atmosphere, specifically the thermosphere at only 340 miles above Earth.

OK, so maybe I’m being petty. We’ll consider that the scientists weren’t clear about Hubble being above [the bulk of] the atmosphere which is in the troposphere. I’ll let that one go.

World Atlas

The Hubble telescope, since its launch in 1990, has given us insight into space and the galaxies that surround us. Creating millions of pictures, the Hubble telescope has continued to be a valuable tool for space exploration. It has amazed us with incredible images of different star objects, galaxies far away, supernovas, and nebulas.

198317main_image_feature_741_946x710

Three thousand light-years away, a dying star throws off shells of glowing gas in this image from the Hubble Space Telescope of the Cat’s Eye Nebula.
(Image: © J. P. Harrington (U. Maryland) & K. J. Borkowski (NCSU) HST, NASA)

But does Hubble show us what the universe really looks like?

no, according to NASA…

Hubble doesn’t use color film (or any film at all) to create its images. Instead…using what’s called a CCD (charge-coupled device) to record incoming photons of light…

Hubble has five scientific instruments which include cameras and spectrographs. A spectrograph is an instrument that splits light [AKA electromagnetic spectrum] into its individual wavelengths…Hubble’s main camera…can see three different kinds of light: near-ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared. But Hubble can only see each kind of light one at a time…

deviations

[as it] travels about 5 miles per second: That is like traveling from the eastern coast of the United States to the western coast in 10 minutes.  Hubble takes sharp pictures of objects in the sky such as planets, stars and galaxies… billions of light years away…The telescope can lock onto a target that is one mile away without moving more than the width of a human hair.

OK, but doesn’t the width of a human hair matter when locked onto a target billions of light years away?

Once the target is acquired, Hubble’s primary mirror collects light. The mirror can collect about 40,000 times more light than the human eye.

And you expect us to believe that there is no intervening light source or object blocking the view of the target billions of light years away when scientists estimate that there are 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe? It seems to me that any hobby photographer would question the ability to avoid all other light sources or obstacles in order to focus on one source “billions of light years away”…

But – incredibly – when it comes to the moon…

Not even the Hubble Space Telescope can discern evidence of the Apollo landings. The laws of optics define its limits.

Hubble’s 94.5-inch mirror has a resolution of 0.024″ in ultraviolet light, which translates to 141 feet (43 meters) at the Moon’s distance. In visible light, it’s 0.05″, or closer to 300 feet. Given that the largest piece of equipment left on the Moon after each mission was the 17.9-foot-high by 14-foot-wide Lunar Module, you can see the problem.

I see the problem alright. Just how big does anything look from billions of lightyears away?

These are significant inconsistencies.

Most importantly, despite the use of visual terms, these instruments are gathering invisible data from spectrographs.

Where Do the Colors in Hubble’s Images Come From?

Hubble pictures start out as shades of black and white. The Space Telescope Science Institute adds colors to the pictures for different reasons. Sometimes colors are chosen to show how an object might look to the human eye. Other times colors are used to highlight an important detail. Or they can be used to show details that would otherwise be invisible to the human eye…

So what Hubble’s NASA “writers and visualizers” are imaging is imaginary, NOT reality. 

Does anyone else besides me consider that a huge deception?

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Name: Robert Simon
Title: Lead Data Visualizer and Information Designer

My role is to make imagery from Earth sciences data. I turn data into pictures…I rely on engineers and scientists to produce the data…each instrument provides a very specialized type of information…

Our team is purely about communications. We translate data into a useable and understandable form. Our writers and visualizers explain what we are seeing and our Web developers tell the world.

1. “Our team ispurely about communications.” Just like advertising. Or propaganda. This team is not about scientific discovery.

2. “We translate data into a useable and understandable form.” To be used for what purpose?

3. “Our writers and visualizers explain what we are seeing” to fit with NASA’s presentation of the universe.

4. “our Web developers tell the world.” Again, this is all about media influencers, not physics.

5. Hubble…has played a key role in the discovery of dark energy, a mysterious force that causes the universe to expand faster and faster as time goes on.

And here is a statement that can be fact checked. And it turns out that Hubble is given credit for what earth bound telescopes discovered.

…the unexpected finding made in the late 1990’s that the rate of expansion of the Universe is increasing due to dark energy…was totally unexpected and won its discoverers the Nobel prize for physics...Between 1994 and 1998 twenty astronomers located in America, Europe, Australia and Chile looked at 16 high red shift supernovae.

Meanwhile, NASA and its international partners are preparing the James Webb Space Telescope to launch in early 2021. The Webb…will be able to see through clouds and dust in space.

Is that an implicit admission that Hubble can’t see through clouds and dust in space?

One line of inquiry that should not be ignored by us earthlings is aligning Hubble’s history with the history of the technology on which its images are based.

1969 – CCD (charge-coupled device) in initial stages of development by Bell Labs at AT&T.

1977 – Home computers become widely available.

1971 – present – the first electro-optical imagery (EOI) reconnaissance satellite  using digital imaging to provide real-time optical observations. Rapidly developed iterations of this technology were named KENNEN, CRYSTAL, Evolved Enhanced CRYSTAL SystemKey Hole then a random numbering scheme. Their capabilities are highly classified, as are the images they produce. 

1981 – First electronic cameras record images as continuous signals. Images had quality of the television of that time and had a lower quality of images comparing to the standard film. They also needed equipment for capturing and printing of images. They were mostly used by newspapers and military.

1990 – Hubble launched into low earth orbit, designed to have regular servicing and equipment upgrades while in orbit: SM 1, 2, 3A, 3B, and 4 via NASA space shuttles. Due to a flaw in the 7.8 ft diameter mirrorHubble was reported to be inoperable during its first first few years. Considering that there was no rush to repair, a reasonable alternate theory to an “inoperable” mirror is that Hubble’s first years were devoted to providing intel for NRO, especially as the first images were determined to be only a 50% improvement over ground-based images.

  • hs-1990-04-a-full1993 – First scheduled maintenance, repaired mirror and replaced other optics with improved versions.
  • 1997 – replaced outdated equipment.
  • 1999 – replaced failed elements and thermal insulation.
  • 2002 – replaced the last of the original instruments with the Advanced Camera for Surveys and the solar arrays for the second time.
  • 2005 – scheduled servicing mission to Hubble canceled and further missions paused after 2003 Columbia disaster.
  • 2009 – Last scheduled shuttle mission for Hubble rendered the telescope fully functional – by which one must assume it hadn’t been previously. A new wide field camera and spectrograph installed, replaced thermal insulation. The ACS’s High Resolution Channel could not be repaired and was disabled. Estimated further repairs of $1 billion on Hubble were determined to be too expensive and Hubble was planned to be retired by 2010.

To sum up Hubble’s reported activity as a space telescope: known requirements for routine maintenance, repairs and upgrades were scheduled in advance and carried out during its first 16 years from 1993 – 2009. Just like automobiles on earth, right? Makes perfect sense. In the last 13 years however, without any routine maintenance, repairs or upgrades, the Hubble has been working fine.

The last [servicing] mission was in 2009…The telescope will not be repaired or upgraded again. But, it is expected to continue to work past 2020.

In the last 13 years, which of your much simpler earth-bound electronics have not required continuous upgrades, or are no longer serviceable, or simply quit functioning? Can you imagine any equipment as high tech as the Hubble would have to be to deliver on its claims, as exposed to the intense heat and Van Allen Belts’ radiation at its location, can possibly be still working just fine??

As a intelligent, well-read individual with higher order analytical thinking skills I personally haven’t been convinced that what I was told is believable.

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