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FOR AGES 3 YEARS TO 18 YEARS
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The Hubble Space Telescope is a space-based large telescope that is named after the legendary American astronomer, Edwin Hubble.
It is the first endeavor of the Hubble mission which aimed to launch a telescope into space. It proved to have astronomical advantages over a ground-based telescope.
The Hubble orbits the earth still to this day, and sends back new and astonishing data for scientists to unravel unknown secrets about the universe. The Hubble Space Telescope has helped to discover many incidents of interest, such as a number of new galaxies which are light-years away, as well as the existence of dark energy. Dark energy is a mysterious force which is behind the expansion of the universe. This telescope has also helped capture many breathtaking pictures like the Hubble ultra deep field, featuring no less than 10,000 galaxies at once! The Hubble Space Telescope's legacy will definitely go down in history as a creation which helped shape history.
If you enjoyed this article, do check out our other pages and discover how telescopes work and interesting facts about the space train.
The Hubble Telescope by NASA was launched into space in 1990. It was not the first telescope to be launched into space but it is the largest to date and the most well-known. The first space telescope was the OSO program launched by NASA. The Hubble Space Telescope helps to observe many celestial bodies such as the planets in our solar system and also the most distant stars known to us.
It is a very powerful telescope and carries a number of high-resolution cameras that help to send images of far-away space objects to scientists back on earth. As this space-based telescope is situated above the stratosphere, which is the layer of the earth's atmosphere containing clouds, it does not have as many interferences to contend with as telescopes on the ground do.
Though the NASA Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990, one of its mirrors was incorrectly placed, which resulted in compromised functionality. A servicing mission was greenlit in 1993, which corrected the optics of Hubble's primary mirror. It is the only telescope built so far which is meant to be maintained in space. There have been as many as five servicing missions sent to the telescope so far to upgrade and improve its capabilities along with new technology.
The telescope is not built to sustain the extended wear and tear of orbiting in space. It has completed 31 years in space and is expected to function until 2030-2040, after which it will likely fall to earth and burn up in the process.
The idea of a telescope orbiting in space was first proposed in 1946, shortly after World War II. The idea was proposed by astronomer Lyman Spitzer, as a way to overcome the limitations which ground telescopes had. One of these limitations of ground telescopes is the bending of light through the earth's atmosphere compromising picture quality of distant celestial bodies.
However, the idea only gained traction around 1962, when the National Academy of Science decided to organize a committee to discuss how to actually go about building one. Spitzer was appointed as the head of the committee, and they created a pitch to show to NASA, which was the only agency with the materials and technology to bring the Large Space Telescope to life. NASA approved the idea, and they began to lobby for funding to take the telescope from paper to reality.
The Hubble Space Telescope is a combined effort between NASA and the European Space Agency, which pitched in to cover the cost of building the telescope. After receiving funding in the '70s, NASA began the development of the telescope and aimed to launch it in 1983. However, there were many issues that caused them to push the date back to September 1986. However, the tragedy that was the Challenger explosion once again caused postponing the launch to 1990.
The Hubble Space Telescope is named in honor of American astronomer, Edwin Hubble, who made many considerable contributions to what we know about space during his lifetime. He helped to prove that the universe is ever-expanding, and created a system to differentiate between the different types of galaxies that exist beyond the reaches of the Milky Way. Hubble determined that the Andromeda galaxy was also a galaxy rather than a nebula, which was a shocking discovery at that time!
The telescope was sent to space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990 on April 24. However, the telescope initially was not able to send back any viable data, as the main mirror had a spherical aberration that went unnoticed during the manufacturing process. This caused the space telescope to send back blurry and unfocused images which were unusable. Though the defect was very small, with the difference being 1/50th the thickness of a sheet of paper off, it threw off the entire positioning of the mirror. A servicing mission was organized to correct this issue in 1993.
NASA was only able to develop and send a servicing mission to the large space telescope three years later in 1993. Seven astronauts were sent to the Hubble Telescope aboard the shuttle Endeavour and carried out maintenance over a period of five days. They also installed two new, high-quality cameras, which have actually been credited with some of Hubble's most iconic captures over the years. The first image from Hubble reached earth in December of 1993, beginning a new era for space exploration from the earth.
The Hubble Space Telescope is around 31 years old and is expected to orbit the Earth for 10-20 more years. It is being planned to be replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope, which will be launched in December 2021 above the Arianne flight VA256. It is far more advanced in technology compared to the Hubble Telescope, and almost half the mass.
The Hubble orbits Earth, completing one orbit every 95 minutes, traveling at a speed of 5 mp/s (8 km/s).
The Hubble space Telescope is around 43.5 ft (13.2 m) in length and weighs around 27,000 lb (12,246 kg). The telescope itself is made of graphite-epoxy- making it quite light, and it has been compared to being around the size of a big school bus!
It transmits a grand total of 120 GB of data to earth every week and all Hubble data is saved on magneto-optical disks.
There are five Hubble instruments today which are the ACS, WFC3, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, and the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer. These have been upgraded from the telescope's instruments that were initially on board, which were the Wide Field Planetary Camera, the Goddard High-Resolution Spectrograph, the Faint Object Camera, the Faint Object Spectrograph, and the High-Speed Photometer. There are also fine guidance sensors, which are able to collect precise data on distant galaxies and other bodies. All these science instruments together can detect almost all types of light on the spectrum, ranging from infrared and visible light to UV light or the ultraviolet light.
It is built to run on solar power, which charges its batteries as it orbits around the Earth and powers it as it travels through Earth's shadow for a 25 minute period. It is equipped with two 25 ft (7.6 m) solar panels. The cameras on the Hubble Telescope are so powerful that they have unearthed a large number of celestial bodies in areas of the sky that scientists considered to be blank. One of the most famous captures is of the 'Hubble deep field' which was taken by the telescope after letting it face a seemingly empty part of the sky.
The Hubble Space Telescope is indeed one of the most productive scientific instruments created by humanity and has helped to deepen our knowledge of space in ways unimagined. It has helped to discover the moons of Pluto, helped to determine the actual age of the Universe (which is still under heavy speculation but has been estimated to be around 13.8 billion years!), as well as to understand the existence of black holes more closely. Additionally, it has captured thousands of distant objects like galaxies, supernovas, and cosmic explosions as well as uncovering surprising features on the planets in our very own solar system!
One of the most shocking and surprising discoveries made by Hubble so far is that almost every large galaxy has a black hole located at its center! It has made over 1.4 million observations to date and will continue to make many more until it falls back to Earth at the end of its lifespan.
There have been instances of the Hubble Telescope spotting suspicious galaxies and UFO-like objects, however, the sheer distance of those objects away from us means that there have been no conclusive findings yet.
The telescope captured a UFO-shaped spiral galaxy, which is shaped like one of the mysterious flying objects. However, the telescope is yet to spot any actual aliens!
If you are interested in catching up with the Hubble Space Telescopes adventures, you can check out NASA's Hubble Space Telescope live and observe what the telescope is looking at that very moment!
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked reading these Hubble Telescope facts then why not take a look at the 1961 space chimp name or find out about the Apollo 13 space mission.
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