There is a question about telescopes that's currently on hold, with a ton of recommendations that it be moved to various other sites like photography, astronomy, or physics.

Given how broad and not specific this particular question is I would totally agree with putting it on hold. However, do we think questions about payloads and payload design (e.g. for remote sensing space missions) are on topic?

The answers to the referenced question obviously takes optics expertise, but the "correct" answers could be wildly different in a space application and a terrestrial photography application. Also, many (most) satellites with telescope payloads are used to image the earth and thus would not belong on astronomy.


Thinking about the main question here, not the example question (I've just migrated it to Astronomy since it went into public beta maybe an hour ago), this question of remote sensing is gonna be really tricky to define in advance, in my opinion. We do have a few guidelines though, I'll describe them later.

I would say that any technological or scientific aspects of payloads that have space application should be on topic, but we have already established before that Earth observations aren't on topic, even though they would easily fall in the first category I described. To make it somewhat easier on me, I'll just quote that accepted and much upvoted answer by @DeerHunter for sake of convenience also here, and we'll try to build from there:


  • questions about lithosphere, atmosphere, hydro/cryosphere, ionosphere of Solar System bodies, if these questions can be answered with current or near future technology (regardless of where the scientific equipment is - down here on the Earth, in LEO, in orbit around the body, or on the ground).

  • questions and answers that describe engineering considerations of concrete technologies used to solve planetary science puzzles

  • planetary geography questions

  • paleogeology questions for Solar System bodies that have been answered or can be practically answered in the near future


  • speculative questions about exo-solar planets (until we have the technical means to narrow down the list of competing hypotheses)
  • questions about Terran geology/atmosphere/hydrosphere insofar they don't relate to exploration of other Solar System bodies
  • questions that require in-depth discussion of physics involved without touching upon practical engineering issues (migratable to Physics.SE)
  • questions about relativistic phenomena unless relevant for spaceflight

So Earth science is not on topic. There is an Area 51 proposal for Geoscience that I guess most such questions would be better cattered at, once the site is launched.

So taking all this into account, as far as payloads go:

Questions about technological or scientific aspects of payloads that have space application and are not asking about Earth science are on topic.

And inverse for off-topic. Well, my take at least, tho I might have forgotten to include/exclude something...


Just to translate what I think @Tildalwave was saying.

  1. The payloads are on topic, science, engineering, operating, etc.
  2. The science generated by the payloads, if Earth is the target, are not on topic.
  3. If you can find some way to mix them, it might be on topic.
  • $\begingroup$ LOL yup that's about it, cheers for translation! :) $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Oct 10 '13 at 18:36

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