When NASA officials decided to pull the plug on the Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer (GEMS) X-ray telescope mission, they inadvertently got the science team managing the observatory very upset. They are now making a case for sparing the telescope, bringing some solid arguments to the table.
For starters, terminating the mission would cost NASA an estimated $13 million, primarily in fees due to contractors for early dismissal of contract. Under these circumstances, it would make more sense to keep the telescope going, and fund it at emergency levels.
Back in January, NASA imposed a $135 million cost cap on the development of new spacecraft, and its analysis revealed that GEMS will most likely burst through this limit. According to the management team handling the telescope, the agency already spent $43.5 million for developing the spacecraft.
GEMS was originally supposed to study X-rays released by objects such as neutron stars and black holes, and its mission would have lasted for nine months in low-Earth orbit. Now, its fate is uncertain, Space