Cash-Strapped NASA Gets Many Ideas for 'Free' Telescopes

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Science  15 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6121, pp. 748
DOI: 10.1126/science.339.6121.748

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Astronomers and planetary scientists are used to dreaming up missions from scratch. But last week they gathered in Huntsville, Alabama, to discuss building a mission around existing hardware—to be precise, two telescopes that fell into NASA's lap 2 years ago. The ideas flowed freely, from an exoplanet-hunting spacecraft to a Hubblelike observatory to study the deep universe. But it's not certain the telescopes will ever fly. Although they are paid for, the money to design and build an accompanying suite of instruments, and then launch the entire mission, is in short supply.