Texting Hubble


Really difficult to send a text from up here with these gloves on…..

Here’s an interesting tidbit from England:

 Text messaging is almost five times more expensive than receiving information from the Hubble Space Telescope, research has indicated.

A typical text costs 5p so if you send one megabyte of data by text – equivalent to 7,490 messages – it will cost around £375.

However, a researcher found that if you send one megabyte of data from the Hubble telescope, which is 370 miles into space, it costs a relatively cheap £85.

If you divide £85 by the number of messages in a megabyte, the equivalent cost of sending a text from the space telescope is just over 1p.

Scientist Dr Nigel Bannister, of Leicester University, worked out the figures and said they showed mobile phone users were paying far too much to text….

He said: "The bottom line is texting is at least four times more expensive than transmitting data from Hubble – and is likely to be substantially more than that."

Our first reaction to Dr. Bannister’s (personal webpage here; University of Leicester here) research was one of profound skepticism. Maybe it wasn’t quite apples to apples to compare data transmissions from Hubble with SMS messages. And surely, we thought, he neglected to include the astronomical (no pun intended) costs of Hubble’s Control Center, for example, which runs four rotating flight teams from Space Telescope Operations Control Center (STOCC) at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Nope, says Dr. Bannister:

He said the mobile phone prices looked even more "astronomical" when you considered that he had added all the costs of staff and processing to the price of the Hubble data transmission.

Without those extra costs, the amount of data in a text could cost as little as 0.1p.

We’re still not convinced, but the low cost of texts may explain why Hubble keeps poking us so freely on Facebook.

(More info on Hubble can be found here.)