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经济学人:天文学 要太空望远镜吗?

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Science and technology.

科技。
Astronomy.
天文学。
Psst. Want a space telescope?
喂,要太空望远镜吗?
America's spies make a generous donation to NASA.
美国间谍机构对NASA慷慨捐赠。
AMERICA'S civilian space programme is built atop its military one. Its rockets trace their ancestry, via ballistic missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads into the Soviet Union, to the German V2s that bombarded London and Antwerp during the second world war.
美国的民用空间计划建立在军用基础之上,比如运载火箭,由携带核弹头并瞄准前苏联的弹道导弹发展而来,再往前可以追溯到二战时用于轰炸伦敦和安特卫普的德国V2系列导弹。
And the Space Shuttle, which made its final flight last year, was used to launch satellites for the air force as well as carrying out its better-publicised scientific missions.
再比如去年退役的航天飞机,曾用来为空军发射卫星,当然用作执行科学任务的宣传工作做得也不差。
So when it was reported on June 4th that the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), one of the more secretive of America's plethora of spy agencies, had decided to donate two surplus spy-satellite mirrors to NASA, the country's civilian space agency, the news was less bizarre than it might at first have seemed.
所以当6月4日有报道指出国家侦察局(NRO,美国众多情报机关中最神秘的机构之一)决定向NASA(美国民用宇航局)捐赠两颗多余的侦察卫星时,这种新闻或许第一眼看上去有些奇怪,其实并非如此。
After all, NASA has benefited from spy technology before.
毕竟一直以来NASA就从侦察技术获益颇多。
The Hubble space telescope is essentially a redesigned spy satellite that points out into space instead of down at the Earth.
比如哈勃太空望远镜本质上就是侦察卫星的另一个版本,只不过把原本对着地球的镜头转向外太空而已。
The news that America's spies had two spare satellite mirrors lying around has prompted speculation about their provenance.
美国间谍机构有两颗闲置卫星的新闻一经报道,卫星的来源问题就引发了广泛的猜测。
Both NASA and the NRO are tight-lipped about the specifics.
但NASA和NRO对细节一直守口如瓶。
but the new mirror assemblies have a shorter focal length than Hubble's, allowing them to study patches of sky around 100 times larger.
这两颗卫星的焦距比哈勃望远镜更短,所以其拍摄太空的视野也比哈勃大100倍左右。
"It looks to me as if these are a couple of Keyhole-11 spares," says Brian Weeden, a space analyst at the Secure World Foundation, a Colorado-based think-tank.
"在我看来这就像是锁眼-11的备份卫星" 安全世界基金会(该智库总部位于科罗拉多)的太空分析师Brian Weeden说。
Dr Weeden is referring to a code name for American optical spy satellites.
Weeden博士参照了美国光学侦察卫星的编号。
He says that the NRO would probably have ordered spare mirrors to replace any that might have been destroyed by failed launches.
表示NRO很可能本来准备把这两颗卫星用于替代万一发射失败而摧毁的卫星。
Although the deal has been in the works for a year, it is not yet clear what NASA plans to do with its new bits of army-surplus kit.
尽管交易已进行一年之久,但还不清楚NASA会如何处置军方剩下的"边角料"。
Indeed, an official told a press conference that the agency might not have the cash to make immediate use of both mirrors.
确实,在新闻发布会上,一位官员说NASA并没有足够的资金把两颗卫星立即投入使用。
But they could nevertheless be a boon to an organisation whose budgets are being squeezed by federal tight-fistedness as well as cost overruns on the James Webb space telescope, an $8.8 billion (and counting) successor to Hubble.
但是他们说詹姆斯-韦伯太空望远镜的预算能在拮据的联邦政府下艰难地获得通过已经是一件好事,因为这位哈勃望远镜的继任者已远超预算,达到了88亿美元(还并非最终值)。
One idea is to use one of the mirrors for the WFIRST mission, an infra-red telescope designed to investigate dark energy-the still-mysterious force thought to be behind the accelerating expansion of the universe.
一个办法就是把其中一颗卫星用于广域红外线巡天望近镜(WFIRST)项目,红外线望远镜可以用来研究暗能量——这股神秘的力量被认为是宇宙膨胀的幕后推手。
Using a higher-resolution NRO mirror would boost the capabilities of WFIRST, says Alan Dressler, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science. It could also cut the project's cost (its present price tag is about $1.6 billion) and shorten its development time.
卡内基科学研究所的研究员Alan Dressler说,运用NRO卫星的高分辨率望远镜可以提升WFIRST的能力,也可以降低该项目的花费(红外线望远镜的当前市价为16亿美元)并缩短研制时间。
Advocates hope an NRO-powered WFIRST mission could launch in the early 2020s.
该方法的拥护者希望在NRO的助力下,WFIRST能在21世纪20年代发射。
By then the mirrors would no longer be state-of-the-art, of course. Indeed, they are probably not even the last word in space-borne optics today.
当然,到时候该卫星已不再是最先进的,甚至在现在也不是最新式的星载平台光学设备。
That the NRO felt able to give them away suggests that its spies have even better toys to play with, of the sort that astronomers would kill to get their hands on. Could this be the start of a beautiful friendship?
NRO觉得把它们送走之后自己的间谍们就有更好的玩意来耍了,要是这样的话,估计天文学家们打死都不会接受的——这会是NRO和NASA一段美好友情的开始吗?

重点单词   查看全部解释    
investigate [in'vestigeit]

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v. 调查,研究
[计算机] 研究

联想记忆
secure [si'kjuə]

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adj. 安全的,牢靠的,稳妥的
vt. 固定

联想记忆
shorten ['ʃɔ:tn]

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v. 弄短,变短

联想记忆
ancestry ['ænsistri]

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n. 祖先,家世,门第

 
accelerating [æk'sæləreitiŋ]

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adj. 加速的,促进的,催化的 动词accelerat

 
spy [spai]

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n. 间谍,侦探,侦察
vt. 侦探,看到,找

 
secretive [si'kri:tiv]

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adj. 密秘的,偷偷摸摸的

 
nevertheless [.nevəðə'les]

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adv. 仍然,不过
conj. 然而,不过

 
boost [bu:st]

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vt. 推进,提高,增加
n. 推进,增加

联想记忆
astronomy [əst'rɔnəmi]

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n. 天文学

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关键字: 天文学 太空 望远镜

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