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Hubble Space Telescope

OLogy Series
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060

Hubble Space Telescope

OLogy Series
tool

The Hubble Space Telescope is the first major optical telescope to orbit Earth. High above the blurring effects of our atmosphere, the Hubble provides razor-sharp views of objects too faint or far away to ever have been seen before. Images from space are sent back to the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.

Tuning the Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched on April 25,1990 by the Space Shuttle Discovery. Soon afterwards, scientists discovered that its vision was blurred by a defect in the 94-inch, 1,800-pound mirror at the heart of the telescope. They used computers to compensate for the flaw until 1993, when astronauts flew up to the orbiting telescope and fixed the problem with high-tech mirrors. Like any other tool, the Hubble needs regular maintenance. Missions in 1997 and 1999 replaced old gyroscopes, upgraded computer systems, patched insulation blankets, and added new stargazing equipment -- including infrared and ultraviolet cameras. The Hubble has since gone on to observe many of the most fantastic events in the cosmos, including the famous Ring Nebula, seen at right.

The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the best telescopes in the world because it:

is outside Earth's atmosphere

has the biggest mirror

took lots of photography classes

Are you right?

Correct!

The Hubble Telescope takes an image 10 to 20 times better -- depending on atmospheric conditions -- than typical large, ground-based telescopes, even though the Hubble is only a medium-sized telescope.

Meteorites come from:

anywhere in the universe

just Mars

anywhere in our solar system

Are you right?

Correct!

Meteorites come from our own solar system. In fact, most come from the asteroid belt, a ring of rocks and debris between Mars and Jupiter.

Mike Shara, astrophysicist

The Hubble Space Telescope is the most powerful astronomical tool ever built. Its crystal-clear vision allows it to take the clearest pictures ever of planets, star clusters and galaxies.

In over ten years in orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope has circled Earth over 50,000 times!

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

The Hubble has logged some 1.5 billion miles in its 58,400 orbits around Earth. That's like making eight round trips to the Sun!

Size: 43 feet long
Weight: 25,000 pounds
Launched: April 25, 1990
Intended lifetime: at least 15 years
Use: scientists from around the world schedule time to use this tool
Speed: 17,000 miles per hour
Significance: the Hubble Space Telescope is the largest space telescope ever launched; it gives astronomers the clearest views of deep space

Image credits: courtesy NASA/STScI/AURA; Mike Shara: AMNH.