NASA Mulls Missions for Donated Spy Satellite Telescopes
NASA is sorting through a variety of possible uses for a pair of powerful spy satellite telescopes that fell into the agency's lap last year.
In November, NASA asked scientists to suggest missions for the telescopes, which were donated by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and are comparable in size and appearance to the famous Hubble Space Telescope.
More than 60 serious proposals came flooding in, the most promising of which were presented in early February at the Study on Applications of Large Space Optics (SALSO) workshop in Huntsville, Ala. [Declassified U.S. Spy Satellites (Gallery)]
Some of the ideas proposed:
Mars-orbiting space telescope
General-purpose faint object explorer
Advanced, Hubble-like visible light/ultraviolet telescope
Optical communications node in space (which would aid transmissions to and from deep-space assets)
Geospace dynamic observatory (which would study space weather and the sun-Earth system)
Research of Earth's upper atmosphere (from a spot aboard the International Space Station)