18 May 2009

Hubble Telescope Repaired; Now Has Own Twitter Feed, Facebook Page

Pictured: Hubble's Twitter.18 05 2009 - Two astronauts spent over eight hours floating above the Earth to complete repairs and upgrades on the aging Hubble telescope, which now has the ability to post to Twitter and set up its own Facebook page.

NASA says that the $350 million repairs will add important 21st century capabilities to the telescope, ensuring that it remains relevant and useful even at its advanced age of 19 years.

"When Hubble was first built to take pictures in space, things like Twitter did not exist, and everyone felt free to write sentences over 140 characters," said astronaut Michael Good. "But in today's world, simple photographs and long-winded thoughts are not enough, which is why it was so important to us to add a social media processing unit to Hubble."

The telescope can post simple thoughts about what it's doing, and in fact has already updated its Twitter account several times, most recently to inform the world that its creaking parts made a noise that sounded "kind of like a fart".

Hubble also now handles its on Facebook account, where it posts hundreds of pictures every day -- not of space, but of itself.

"omg u look funny there," said one Facebook friend in response to a new picture, to which the telescope replied, "'ERROR 4Bc2: SCRIPT 'lol thanks hun' NOT FOUND."

Michael Good says the new technology is all about catering to what the internet's most vocal taxpayers want to see in a modern space program. And for those who are still interested in Hubble's old functions, the telescope still has the ability to document what it sees in space, albeit in a new, hip fashion.

"Users interested in space pictures can sign up for live text updates from Hubble, which are basically just the Twitter feed," Good said. "But sometimes Hubble may update the Twitter with a poor, vague description of something it just saw, so that's not really something you're going to want to miss out on."

When asked to further describe how some of Hubble's new services work, Good admitted that he would "never use any of this whatnot, frankly. They tell me some people will, which is great, but I don't even really know what the hell I'm telling you about right now."

Many Americans seemed to share Good's indifference to the upgrades.

"Is Hubble ready for the upcoming switch to digital television?" asked one elderly man from Ohio. "And do I need to buy a new Hubble to make my TV work?"

"Telescopes in space," marveled Jane Flora of Golden Rock, Arkansas, when told of the news. "I never would have guessed."

Hubble will likely remain active for years to come, although it may be necessary to deactivate the Twitter module after three months, when it's expected that nobody will use or remember the service anymore.

Source: The Enduring Vision

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