Author Topic: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)  (Read 25974 times)

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8146
  • UK
  • Liked: 1314
  • Likes Given: 168
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #40 on: 08/16/2016 06:49 PM »
Seems a bit strong to descope just because ULA have increased costs. Maybe alternative launchers should be considered.

Offline as58

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 737
  • Liked: 243
  • Likes Given: 168
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #41 on: 08/16/2016 07:14 PM »
Seems a bit strong to descope just because ULA have increased costs. Maybe alternative launchers should be considered.

It's not only that, there are also other reasons for the increased cost estimate.

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8146
  • UK
  • Liked: 1314
  • Likes Given: 168
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #42 on: 08/16/2016 07:23 PM »
Seems a bit strong to descope just because ULA have increased costs. Maybe alternative launchers should be considered.

It's not only that, there are also other reasons for the increased cost estimate.
But from going on that article it sounded like the launcher costs was the biggest factor?

Offline Sam Ho

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 497
  • Liked: 182
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #43 on: 08/16/2016 11:15 PM »
Seems a bit strong to descope just because ULA have increased costs. Maybe alternative launchers should be considered.

It's not only that, there are also other reasons for the increased cost estimate.
But from going on that article it sounded like the launcher costs was the biggest factor?

The assessment said it was a factor, but not necessarily the biggest factor.  Also, the 25% cost increase was over a 2015 DRM that had a coronagraph as well.

Quote
However, changes to the mission design between the 2015 DRM and the version of WFIRST presented at the Mission Concept Review and approved at KDP-A led to an increase of the estimated cost by approximately 25 percent ($550 million). An unknown portion of this change is associated with the change from geosynchronous orbit to L2, and another portion is associated with an increased estimate for the cost of the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle (the choice of launch vehicle did not change, just its estimated cost). Some of it may simply reflect more accurate assessment as the mission design matures. NASA’s current cost projection for WFIRST is $2.6 billion to $2.8 billion in FY2015 dollars for a 2025 launch. A key uncertainty is the launch vehicle cost, which is difficult to project 8-10 years into the future at this time. It is projected that an accelerated funding profile leading to a 2024 launch would save approximately $0.3 billion relative to the “in-guide” profile that leads to a 2025 launch.

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10937
  • Liked: 2423
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #44 on: 08/17/2016 12:41 PM »
The National Academies published a midterm assessment of the New Worlds, New Horizons program.

http://www.nap.edu/23560

On the WFIRST front (Chapter 4), it remains a top priority, but there was about a 25% increase in the estimated cost, caused by a significant, but unspecified, increase in the cost of the Delta IV Heavy, among other things, and they are concerned that WFIRST could eat up the budget.

A large part was due to WFIRST being switched from geostationary orbit to L2.  The coronagraph was also mentioned, since it wasn't initially part of the recommendation for the mission.  I hope they can keep the mission on better track than the Webb 'scope.  I can understand their concern given the track record of big missions overrunning budgets a lot.

There's a big issue hidden in all of this--WFIRST was conceived as a different mirror. Then they were gifted the NRO mirror. Even though that mirror was "free," it turns out that using it may cost a lot more than what they originally planned for. It's a complex and rather weird situation.

Offline Nomadd

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2578
  • Boca Chica, Texas
  • Liked: 3130
  • Likes Given: 228
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #45 on: 08/17/2016 04:28 PM »
The National Academies published a midterm assessment of the New Worlds, New Horizons program.

http://www.nap.edu/23560

On the WFIRST front (Chapter 4), it remains a top priority, but there was about a 25% increase in the estimated cost, caused by a significant, but unspecified, increase in the cost of the Delta IV Heavy, among other things, and they are concerned that WFIRST could eat up the budget.

A large part was due to WFIRST being switched from geostationary orbit to L2.  The coronagraph was also mentioned, since it wasn't initially part of the recommendation for the mission.  I hope they can keep the mission on better track than the Webb 'scope.  I can understand their concern given the track record of big missions overrunning budgets a lot.

There's a big issue hidden in all of this--WFIRST was conceived as a different mirror. Then they were gifted the NRO mirror. Even though that mirror was "free," it turns out that using it may cost a lot more than what they originally planned for. It's a complex and rather weird situation.
Unfortunately, it's a very normal situation. These repurposing schemes always sound great when you start and always wind up costing more time, money and trouble than building from scratch.

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8146
  • UK
  • Liked: 1314
  • Likes Given: 168
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #46 on: 08/17/2016 04:55 PM »
The National Academies published a midterm assessment of the New Worlds, New Horizons program.

http://www.nap.edu/23560

On the WFIRST front (Chapter 4), it remains a top priority, but there was about a 25% increase in the estimated cost, caused by a significant, but unspecified, increase in the cost of the Delta IV Heavy, among other things, and they are concerned that WFIRST could eat up the budget.

A large part was due to WFIRST being switched from geostationary orbit to L2.  The coronagraph was also mentioned, since it wasn't initially part of the recommendation for the mission.  I hope they can keep the mission on better track than the Webb 'scope.  I can understand their concern given the track record of big missions overrunning budgets a lot.

There's a big issue hidden in all of this--WFIRST was conceived as a different mirror. Then they were gifted the NRO mirror. Even though that mirror was "free," it turns out that using it may cost a lot more than what they originally planned for. It's a complex and rather weird situation.
Unfortunately, it's a very normal situation. These repurposing schemes always sound great when you start and always wind up costing more time, money and trouble than building from scratch.

All this negativity and no mention of the positive side that in the end this will mean more science.

Offline Sam Ho

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 497
  • Liked: 182
  • Likes Given: 2
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #47 on: 08/17/2016 08:32 PM »
The National Academies published a midterm assessment of the New Worlds, New Horizons program.

http://www.nap.edu/23560

On the WFIRST front (Chapter 4), it remains a top priority, but there was about a 25% increase in the estimated cost, caused by a significant, but unspecified, increase in the cost of the Delta IV Heavy, among other things, and they are concerned that WFIRST could eat up the budget.

A large part was due to WFIRST being switched from geostationary orbit to L2.  The coronagraph was also mentioned, since it wasn't initially part of the recommendation for the mission.  I hope they can keep the mission on better track than the Webb 'scope.  I can understand their concern given the track record of big missions overrunning budgets a lot.

There's a big issue hidden in all of this--WFIRST was conceived as a different mirror. Then they were gifted the NRO mirror. Even though that mirror was "free," it turns out that using it may cost a lot more than what they originally planned for. It's a complex and rather weird situation.
Unfortunately, it's a very normal situation. These repurposing schemes always sound great when you start and always wind up costing more time, money and trouble than building from scratch.

All this negativity and no mention of the positive side that in the end this will mean more science.

The various assessments have been consistent that that the free mirror would have, at best, a level cost impact, with increased cost risk and increased science return.  Also, it appears that the free mirror has a positive political impact.

From the 2014 evaluation:
Quote
Finding 3-2: The opportunity to increase the telescope aperture and resolution by employing the 2.4-meter AFTA mirror will significantly enhance the scientific power of the mission, primarily for cosmology and general survey science, and will also positively impact the exoplanet microlensing survey. WFIRST/AFTA’s planned observing program is responsive to all the scientific goals described in NWNH. (p. 37)

Finding 2-4: The risk of cost growth is significantly higher for WFIRST/AFTA without the coronagraph than for WFIRST/IDRM. (p. 39)

From the 2016 assessment:
Quote
Thanks to (1) JWST remaining on schedule and budget since its 2011 reprogram, (2) the adoption of the 2.4-m National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) telescope, and (3) the addition of the coronagraph, WFIRST-AFTA has enjoyed stronger support in Congress, within NASA, and in the astronomical community, compared to the previous implementations of WFIRST. All three of these developments have played a role in garnering this stronger support, and it is hard to disentangle their individual contributions. In FY2014, FY2015, and FY2016, Congress allocated more funds to WFIRST than requested by the administration.

Note that the coronagraph is only possible because of the NRO mirror:
Quote
FINDING 4-3: The WFIRST coronagraph responds to an opportunity that arose after NWNH, the availability of the 2.4-m AFTA telescope.

Offline catdlr

  • Member
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4650
  • Marina del Rey, California, USA
  • Liked: 1466
  • Likes Given: 894
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #48 on: 09/19/2016 03:43 PM »
WFIRST: Uncovering the Mysteries of the Universe—Updated 4k version

NASA Goddard

Published on Sep 19, 2016
WFIRST, the Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope, is a NASA observatory designed to settle essential questions in the areas of dark energy, exoplanets, and infrared astrophysics. The telescope has a primary mirror that is 2.4 meters in diameter (7.9 feet), and is the same size as the Hubble Space Telescope's primary mirror. WFIRST will have two instruments, the Wide Field Instrument, and the Coronagraph Instrument.

(Updated 9/20 new video link)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1vFDwgnXxE?t=001

« Last Edit: 09/20/2016 11:21 PM by catdlr »
Tony De La Rosa

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10937
  • Liked: 2423
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #49 on: 11/10/2016 04:47 PM »
Here is part of the WFIST mockup.

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8146
  • UK
  • Liked: 1314
  • Likes Given: 168
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #50 on: 01/02/2017 08:19 PM »
Quote
Jeff Foust – ‏@jeff_foust
Still: WFIRST scheduled to go into Phase B in Oct.; decision around that time whether to maintain compatibility with a starshade. #ExoPAG

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/816016502579228672
« Last Edit: 01/02/2017 08:19 PM by Star One »

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8146
  • UK
  • Liked: 1314
  • Likes Given: 168
Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #51 on: 01/03/2017 07:45 PM »
Jeff Foust –  ‏@jeff_foust

Hertz: work on key instrument technologies for WFIRST running well ahead of schedule; don’t expect it to be biggest challenge. #AAS229

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/816379196012261377

Jeff Foust –  ‏@jeff_foust

Audience Q: what is the biggest challenge for WFIRST, then? Hertz: general cost control, since this is a large mission. #AAS229

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/816379395866624000

Jeff Foust –  ‏@jeff_foust

Hertz: midterm assessment recommended NASA prioritize gravitational wave tech dev over exoplanet tech beyond WFIRST coronagraph. #AAS229

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/816386114210541568

Jeff Foust –  ‏@jeff_foust

Hertz: we’ll need to make decision soon on how much to spend on starshade technology; tough to do not knowing overall FY17 budget. #AAS229

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/816386262009401344
« Last Edit: 01/03/2017 08:05 PM by Star One »

Offline Star One

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8146
  • UK
  • Liked: 1314
  • Likes Given: 168
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #52 on: 01/06/2017 07:33 PM »
Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust
Maggie Turnbull, in #AAS229 starshade session: we were so ahead of our time in 2000 with the Terrestrial Planet Finder mission concept.

https://mobile.twitter.com/jeff_foust/status/817464712795398144

Offline Lee Jay

  • Elite Veteran
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6639
  • Liked: 913
  • Likes Given: 137
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #53 on: 01/09/2017 01:05 PM »
The National Academies published a midterm assessment of the New Worlds, New Horizons program.

http://www.nap.edu/23560

On the WFIRST front (Chapter 4), it remains a top priority, but there was about a 25% increase in the estimated cost, caused by a significant, but unspecified, increase in the cost of the Delta IV Heavy, among other things, and they are concerned that WFIRST could eat up the budget.

A large part was due to WFIRST being switched from geostationary orbit to L2.  The coronagraph was also mentioned, since it wasn't initially part of the recommendation for the mission.  I hope they can keep the mission on better track than the Webb 'scope.  I can understand their concern given the track record of big missions overrunning budgets a lot.

There's a big issue hidden in all of this--WFIRST was conceived as a different mirror. Then they were gifted the NRO mirror. Even though that mirror was "free," it turns out that using it may cost a lot more than what they originally planned for. It's a complex and rather weird situation.
Unfortunately, it's a very normal situation. These repurposing schemes always sound great when you start and always wind up costing more time, money and trouble than building from scratch.

Maybe, but from Congress's point of view writing the checks, that NRO telescope was a complete write off worth several billion dollars of taxpayer money. 

By finally using the NRO telescope, they get some of that invested money back as long as the cost of "new" WFIRST doesn't exceed the projected cost of "old" WFIRST plus the original cost of the NRO telescope.

Sounds a lot like the sunk cost fallacy.

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10937
  • Liked: 2423
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #54 on: 01/09/2017 02:49 PM »
Maybe, but from Congress's point of view writing the checks, that NRO telescope was a complete write off worth several billion dollars of taxpayer money. 

By finally using the NRO telescope, they get some of that invested money back as long as the cost of "new" WFIRST doesn't exceed the projected cost of "old" WFIRST plus the original cost of the NRO telescope.

Sounds a lot like the sunk cost fallacy.

I don't think that the sunk cost fallacy is really a fallacy--looking at these things that way overly simplifies the situation. It's a lot more complex and subtle than that. One possible reality is that WFIRST may never have found political support at all if it had not been for the NRO optics. So calling it a "fallacy" misses the issue that these kinds of decisions are made on the basis of a whole bunch of considerations and priorities that differ from person to person.
« Last Edit: 01/09/2017 02:50 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Nomadd

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2578
  • Boca Chica, Texas
  • Liked: 3130
  • Likes Given: 228
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #55 on: 01/09/2017 02:56 PM »
Maybe, but from Congress's point of view writing the checks, that NRO telescope was a complete write off worth several billion dollars of taxpayer money. 

By finally using the NRO telescope, they get some of that invested money back as long as the cost of "new" WFIRST doesn't exceed the projected cost of "old" WFIRST plus the original cost of the NRO telescope.

Sounds a lot like the sunk cost fallacy.

I don't think that the sunk cost fallacy is really a fallacy--looking at these things that way overly simplifies the situation. It's a lot more complex and subtle than that. One possible reality is that WFIRST may never have found political support at all if it had not been for the NRO optics. So calling it a "fallacy" misses the issue that these kinds of decisions are made on the basis of a whole bunch of considerations and priorities that differ from person to person.
Put it this way. If it gets the thing built, it was a good path. Just like building the ISS, servicing Hubble or any of the things that people claim could have been done cheaper and more efficiently, doing them the way they were done might have been the only way they'd ever get done, considering the public and congressional relations factor. 

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10937
  • Liked: 2423
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #56 on: 01/09/2017 04:57 PM »
Put it this way. If it gets the thing built, it was a good path. Just like building the ISS, servicing Hubble or any of the things that people claim could have been done cheaper and more efficiently, doing them the way they were done might have been the only way they'd ever get done, considering the public and congressional relations factor. 

Yes. People can always propose ways to do things that have been done that they claim could have been cheaper, but that's very hypothetical--it's a "could" and not a "would."

I've seen this most with Hubble, when people claim that for the price of Hubble, we could have bought a half dozen similar telescopes. There are some big problems with that claim, but to explain it you would really have to go into how the astrophysics community prioritizes their projects. They never would have prioritized six telescopes like that, they would have come up with a different thing each time. Now maybe that approach would have been better, but you have to explore that hypothetical, not the less likely one of six similar telescopes. Plus, the political support depends upon the decision you make, and it's hard to know if a different decision would have had the same amount of political support. Would the general public have been so upset if Hubble #6 was being abandoned instead of the world-famous Hubble that we got? Probably not. So a different approach would have had eroding political support.


And I should add that I am not arguing that the way things have been done is the best way or the most cost effective way. There may well have been better and more cost effective alternatives that were not followed. My point is that if we are going to discuss alternative approaches that were rejected, we need to acknowledge that there is a lot of uncertainty in that discussion. It's very rarely clear-cut and obvious.
« Last Edit: 01/09/2017 04:59 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Lee Jay

  • Elite Veteran
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6639
  • Liked: 913
  • Likes Given: 137
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #57 on: 01/09/2017 10:04 PM »
Maybe, but from Congress's point of view writing the checks, that NRO telescope was a complete write off worth several billion dollars of taxpayer money. 

By finally using the NRO telescope, they get some of that invested money back as long as the cost of "new" WFIRST doesn't exceed the projected cost of "old" WFIRST plus the original cost of the NRO telescope.

Sounds a lot like the sunk cost fallacy.

I don't think that the sunk cost fallacy is really a fallacy--looking at these things that way overly simplifies the situation. It's a lot more complex and subtle than that. One possible reality is that WFIRST may never have found political support at all if it had not been for the NRO optics. So calling it a "fallacy" misses the issue that these kinds of decisions are made on the basis of a whole bunch of considerations and priorities that differ from person to person.

Right...in other words, Congress routinely falls for the sunk cost fallacy, and so you can use it to get what you want from them sometimes.

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10937
  • Liked: 2423
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #58 on: 01/10/2017 02:30 AM »
Right...in other words, Congress routinely falls for the sunk cost fallacy, and so you can use it to get what you want from them sometimes.

"Falls for" implies that they are dumb and the person talking about "the sunk cost fallacy" is not dumb.

I would instead counter-propose that focusing on "the sunk cost fallacy" ignores the complexity of how politics works. It is not all about money, it is often about perception and interest and support. If everybody in Congress took into account "the sunk cost fallacy" and simply canceled stuff when it got expensive, then nothing would ever get built. You'd save lots of money that way, right? Well, after you spent the money and then stopped building something--at that point you'd save the money. Doesn't sound all that efficient.

Offline Lee Jay

  • Elite Veteran
  • Global Moderator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6639
  • Liked: 913
  • Likes Given: 137
Re: Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)
« Reply #59 on: 01/10/2017 01:16 PM »
Right...in other words, Congress routinely falls for the sunk cost fallacy, and so you can use it to get what you want from them sometimes.

"Falls for" implies that they are dumb and the person talking about "the sunk cost fallacy" is not dumb.

I would instead counter-propose that focusing on "the sunk cost fallacy" ignores the complexity of how politics works. It is not all about money, it is often about perception and interest and support. If everybody in Congress took into account "the sunk cost fallacy" and simply canceled stuff when it got expensive, then nothing would ever get built. You'd save lots of money that way, right? Well, after you spent the money and then stopped building something--at that point you'd save the money. Doesn't sound all that efficient.

This is a fundamental problem with our funding approach - if you price something at what it's going to cost, it'll never get funded.  If you price it to get funded, you're going to get criticized - or cut - when it ends up costing what it actually costs.

Tags: