The Hubble Wars: Astrophysics Meets Astropolitics in the Two-Billion-Dollar Struggle over the Hubble Space Telescope, With a New Preface

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The Hubble Space Telescope is the largest, most complex, and most powerful observatory ever deployed in space, designed to allow astronomers to look far back into our own cosmic past with unprecedented clarity. Yet from its launch in 1990, when it was discovered that a flawed mirror was causing severe "myopia" and sending fuzzy images back to Earth, the HST has been at the center of a controversy over who was at fault for the flaw and how it should be fixed. Now Chaisson, a former senior scientist on the HST project, tells the inside story of the much heralded mission to fix the telescope. Drawing on his journals, Chaisson recreates the day-to-day struggles of scientists, politicians, and publicists to fix the telescope and control the political spin. Illustrated with "before and after" full-color pictures from the telescope and updated with a new preface, The Hubble Wars tells an engaging tale of scientific comedy and error.

In this new edition, coming at the half-way point in the HST's planned mission of fifteen years, Chaisson has brought the Hubble story up-to-date by sorting out the spectacular from the mundane contributions the HST has made to our knowledge of the Solar System, the Milky Way Galaxy, and the distant galaxies of deep space.

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Editorial Reviews

Astronomy Now

There are many interesting nuggets in the book and much of it is good reading.
— Bob Dryden

This book recounts the inside story of how the mission to fix the telescope was undertaken, recreating the day-to-day problems of scientists and others involved as they determined how to fix the telescope as well as controlling the political aspects with 'damage-limitation' actions. This second edition, which comes at the halfway point in the HST's planned mission of 15 years, now brings the Hubble story up to date by sorting out the spectacular from the mundane contributions it has made to our knowledge of the Solar System, the Milky way and the distant galaxies over that period.
New York Times Book Review - Chet Raymo
[A]n absorbing personal history of the Hubble project...The Hubble WarsThe Double Helix.
Astronomy Now - Bob Dryden
There are many interesting nuggets in the book and much of it is good reading.
Chaisson (physics, astronomy, Tufts U.) draws on his journals during his five years as a senior scientist with the Hubble space telescope project to recreate the day-to-day controversy between scientists, government and industry leaders, and the military, over the space observatory. Chaisson probes the politics and economics of astronomy research, profiles the personalities involved in the project, and explains technological details of the telescope and its discoveries. Includes about 100 b&w and color photos. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674412552
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 424
  • Sales rank: 1,027,235
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric J. Chaisson is Research Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Director of the H. Dudley Center for Innovative Science Education at Tufts University. He is the author of Cosmic Dawn, nominated for the National Book Award for distinguished science writing.
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Table of Contents

Preface, 1998

Preface to the Original Edition

Prologue: Launch of Space Telescope

Deployment and Early Operations

Jitters, in Space and on the Ground

Hubble's First Light

Babel Revisited

Rocky Road to the Imaging Campaign

Inaugural Science Observations

More Early Science Results

Epilogue: Miracle on Orbit

Afterword: The "Fix"

For Further Reading


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