With the Hubble telescope’s day of destruction drawing ever closer, new startling pictures of a “planetoid” more than 8 billion miles from Earth could be the discovery needed to save the extremely valuable device.
Bearing in mind NASA’s understandable current preoccupation with Mars explorations, finding what some have called the “tenth planet” proves that older machines and technology can still be as effective as newer ones. The discussion of whether or not the Hubble should be dismantled should be reconsidered in light of this new discovery.
Pictures taken by Hubble help to show the red coloring of the planetoid that scientists are calling “Sedna.” California Institute of Technology astronomer Mike Brown announced to The Associated Press that Sedna, discovered in November, is between 800 miles and 1,100 miles in diameter, or about 3/4 the size of Pluto and never gets above minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the largest known body of mass found orbiting the sun since the 1930 discovery of Pluto. Sedna is so far away from the sun that it takes 10,500 years to travel its highly elliptical path around it.
Yet even though Sedna is in the Milky Way solar system, scientists are hesitant to categorize this object as a planet. It is suspected that it has a moon, however Brown told AP that his team of scientists will use Hubble to answer this as well as other inquiries.
With Americans becoming more skeptical about how their tax money is being spent, it is refreshing to see information scientists have gained from the fascinating pictures supplied by the Hubble telescope. These photos further our understanding of our solar system and the universe. At a smaller level they provide science teachers with material to engage young minds and, with the consequent media coverage, further awareness of the role science plays in our lives.
In an age when so many people seem to be searching for meaning, it would be wise to reconsider Hubble’s demise, as every nugget of information reaffirms or sheds new light on the nature of our universe. Certainly, as long as Hubble is capable of making such major discoveries as Sedna, it would be foolish to shut this eye in the sky.