A small telescope in space is a great educational tool and can serve as a basic research instrument for more mundane tasks, not tackled by large space-based or terrestrial observatories. A small telescope can be a visual instrument, perform variable star photometry, perform high speed occultation photometry, and can even teach celestial mechanics. I envisage users in four classes: (1) JK-Grade 8 (visual, wonders of the sky). (2) Grades 9-12 (visual and variable star study). (3) Undergraduate (celestial mechanics, variable stars, high speed photometry). (4) Public / professional liaison (All).
Proposed equipment: Small 6" Ritchey-Chretien telescope (similar to telescopes owned by amateurs throughout the world - see photo 2). But in space, it can offer breath-taking views and even perform basic research. The telescope can be held by Canadarm2, in a space-hardened computer controlled servo mount.
Ancillary equipment can include a space-hardened CCD camera (see photo 3) and a space-hardened photometer. Weight is kept to a minimum.
Real time access by the public is via internet uplink for pointing commands (low speed telemetry). Photometric data can be sent to users by low speed downlink. Photographic data need not be sent in real time, but downloaded using idle downlink bandwidth.
I propose access to the telescope is made available to users throughout the world. The telescope time can be allocated to schools, organizations, and individuals who have expressed interest, perhaps based on a lottery to achieve fairness.
My former professor, J Allen Hynek (of Northwestern University), said "A 6-inch telescope on the moon can yield views comparable to the largest earth-based telescopes." This is a chance to test his hypothesis and provide a tangible benefit to students of all ag
In January, 2013, Chris Hadfield used a 9" telescope (see photo 1) to look out the window, back to earth. I propose a permanent smaller telescope on the International Space Station for public access via the internet.