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Name: Nancy S.
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2/22/2004


Question:
Can it ever be light in outer space? What about the manned trips to the moon -- was it light as long as the spacecraft was directly in line with sun and not blocked by earth or moon? If not, why not?


Replies:
So long as there is a source of light, it will not be dark even in outer space. So astronauts can see stars as well as the Sun. The photons travel in a straight line. If the astronauts look in the opposite direction from the Sun the sky will appear black. This is one of the advantages of space telescopes like the Hubble. If it is pointed away from the Sun and scattering of light from the structure is eliminated, it can be used 24 hours a day. While on that subject: NASA intends to let the Hubble die. Very bad decision. The Hubble produced and can continue to produce more astronomical information in its few years of operation than all telescopes in history. Write letters! Send e-mails! Telephone! Keep Hubble alive. All the necessary maintenance equipment is built. It is a stupid political decision to allow this resource to fall apart while focusing on a far more difficult and risky venture to send humans to Mars. I am not opposed to space travel, but we can learn a lot more about Mars without the risk of human life using robotics. Given the rapid advances in robotics it is not at all clear that by the time we would be ready to send humans to Mars that robots will even exceed human capabilities in outer space.

Vince Calder



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