Editorial: Reaching for the stars

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 11, 2009

Reaching for the stars More than 350 miles above Main Street and everywhere else on the planet, the Hubble telescope orbits the Earth at 5 miles per second ó soon with crew members from the space shuttle Atlantis hanging on to make repairs.
This endeavor is over our heads in more ways than one. Suffice to say the Hubble has both undergone and facilitated tremendous scientific progress. When the spacecraft began its orbit in 1990, it stored data onboard on old-fashioned reel-to-reel tape recorders. Thanks to subsequent missions to make repairs and update technology, now Hubble sends clear, breath-taking images through a system of satellites to Earth for study and archiving.
Hubble has helped pinpoint the Earth’s age at a mind-boggling 13.7 billion years, and the telescope’s photos have hinted at distant galaxies. That might not seem like vital information to down-to-Earth humans. We’d just like to understand why the price of gas skyrockets overnight. Certainly the $10 billion spent on Hubble to date could have been put to other uses. A mere $2 billion would balance the state budget. But thinking space exploration is useless makes as much sense as believing the moon is made of cheese.
Here’s hoping the Atlantis mission is a success and Hubble keeps expanding man’s understanding of space.