Men build a $267m spacecraft, send it to space, target it at a meteor, manage to make it inspect the meteor upclose at thousands of kms/hour... and still, writing correct software is an impenetrable problem.
h> logBase 2 . realToFrac $ (secs "2013-08-11" - secs "2000-01-01")*10
secs = utcTimeToPOSIXSeconds . readTime defaultTimeLocale "%F"
\\TODO: reset the clock before launch day
Someone realized that a counter operating on tenths of a second from 2000 was both easy to use and sufficient for the primary mission... they then thought nothing of it until the loss of contact
I'd say that was biased. I personally would have rather $267 million be spent on something more permanent and practical. How about spending it on our Earth-based telecopes?
Extra-planetary experiments like the deep impact mission allow scientists a glimpse at new experimental data that can confirm theories that there is no other way to confirm. Sure, you can observe a comet's tail to figure out its surface composition - but that has limited resolution and many elements simply can't be detected that way. This isn't even taking into consideration all the sub-surface elements that would be utterly impossible to detect from observation alone.
In essence, even if the Deep Impact mission mostly failed and scientists only gathered a limited amount of data, it is still very much worth its value when the alternative of building permanent terrestrial telescopes does nothing more than confirm data that has been confirmed countless times in the past.
I don't think you meant it that way, but I'd like to clarify that Deep Impact's mission most definitely did not fail. The spacecraft survived for eight years after it completed its primary objectives in 2005.
That's outright wrong.
Is the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope there just to look pretty and reconfirm existing theories? Why build the Giant Magellan Telescope when apparently there's no more discoveries to make? Or the European Extremely Large Telescope? The Thirty Meter Telescope?
Hubble was started and launched before adaptive optics. That's revolutionized ground-based telescopes. The newest generation of extremely large telescopes, like the Giant Magellan Telescope, will have better angular resolution of Hubble, in visible light.
Of course, the relevant comparison should be to the James Webb Space Telescope, but it's estimated cost of $9 billion is rather a lot higher than the $800 million for the GMT.
I'm emphatically not saying that we shouldn't have space telescopes. There's no way to have a ground-based X-ray telescope, as an obvious example.
I'm only pointing out that the evidence is that land-based telescopes are not, broadly speaking, "too limited" to do new science.
And a lot of physics experts who were working on high-resolution space-based telescopes, telescopes that are in many cases are now replaceable by ground telescopes, have paid a heavy price for this fact. Technology can be a tough field sometimes.
If you want to see what is likely to be built in the next decade, you can start at:
Go to the last report on the web page ("2020 Vision") and go to page 17 of the PDF. It's all there.
"What's likely" is, sadly, optimistic. I see that LISA's isn't likely to be built by the 2020s.
Reviewing the list of other space telescopes, WFIRST is now WFIRST-AFTA, with a change to use a second-hand NAO telescope.
NuSTAR and IRIS are two launched Small Explorer missions since 2010. (Oddly, they used an artist's concept of WISE to highlight the concept. Odd, because WISE was launched in 2009, so a 2010 publication should not have needed a concept image.) I haven't figured out what the new missions are/might be, but I didn't look too hard.
The International X-Ray Observatory has had a "reboot", to ATHENA (Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics). NASA withdrew from IXO.