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Hubble Space Telescope

Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope is a satellite that is in orbit round the Earth allowing N.A.S.A. and partners the ability to study the stars without the interference of Earth's atmosphere.

The hubble space telescope was the first attempt at putting an observation tool in space. Before Hubble, we could only observe the skies by looking at them with the naked eye or a through the lens of a telescope. Our telescopic views could only get so advanced before the Earth's atmosphere would distort the view. Earth based observatories would get larger but to really see out there, a space based telescope would be the way to go. Ground based telescopes had been great, we were able to see the first moons orbiting another planet, Jupiter using the telescope that had been first designed by Galileo. We still wanted better though.

It had been built by NASA with help from Lockheed Martin and Perkin-Elmer company. NASA was also helped by the E.S.A. 1985 and was due to launch soon after. As a result of the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the two year hiatus of space shuttle flights, the launch of the satellite was put back. It would eventually launch on board the Space Shuttle Discovery on April 24th, 1990

Soon after the the satellite was launched, the images were not as good as they had hoped, there was a defect on one of the instruments. A mission would be sent up later to fix the instrument. The fix would involve attaching another lense on to the faulty lense to counteract the problem. The solution worked and we had clear pictures.

There would be a total of five servicing missions that would take place to visit the telescope.

Since Space Shuttle Atlantis visited to perform maintenance, no one has been back since. There might have been software upgrades but that would have been done by transmitting the code up to the satellite, no need to visit it.

Hubble's Instruments

Below is a list of the instruments that are on board the satellite, both current and ones that are not working any more. N.A.S.A.

Hubble Discoveries

There have been numerous discoveries and papers written because of what is been discovered. Only a few items have been listed below. N.A.S.A. has detailed all its discoveries and others on its Site.

When scientists pointed Hubble at a patch of sky in the constellation of Ursa Major, they were able to see 3,000 galaxies that had not been detected by other forms of telescope. The area became known as the Hubble Deep Field. Space

The Hubble telescope wasn't created for the search of exoplanets or life but it did make some discoveries. The telescope was able to tell the atmospheric constituents of exoplanets. Most of the planets would have been unable to support life. The exoplanet orbiting Fomalhaut was captured by Hubble, the first time an exoplanet had been captured. The capture wasn't detailed enough to determine if the planet had life on it, it was just that it was seen. The planet orbits at a very large distance from its star. N.A.S.A.

Before Hubble was launched, it was estimated that the age of the Universe was put at about 10 to 20 Billion years old. With information gained from studies using data from the Hubble, we have come to the more well known figure of 13.8 Billion years old. N.A.S.A.

Although we have not been able to fully identify Dark Matter, Hubble has been able to use map Dark Matter in space using gravitational lensing, mapping the pull of objects by gravitational forces. N.A.S.A.

Data from Hubble was able to allow scientists that the centres of galaxies contain a black hole. The larger a galaxy was, the larger the black hole at the centre was. Not all galaxies contain black holes, some have large star clusters. N.A.S.A. . The Galaxy A2261-BCG in the constellation Hercules does not contain a black hole.

Before New Horizons probe reached Pluto, Hubble discovered four new moons orbiting the now ex-planet. We already knew Pluto had a moon but the new discoveries increased the total. N.A.S.A.

Edwin Hubble

The telescope is named after Edwin Hubble, an American astronomer (November 20, 1889 - September 28, 1953) who first noted that there were galaxies outside our own and that the milky way was just one of them. Edwin was trhe first to note that galaxies were moving away from one another and the The Big Bang, The Beginning of the Universe theory started in motion.

Edwin wasn't the person who had come up with the idea of a space telescope, the idea first came from Lyman Spitzer. Spitzer wouldn't live to see a telescope launch in his name as he passed away in 1997. The Spitzer Telescope was launched in 2003. The Hubble Space Telescope is the more famous of the these two telescopes.

James Webb Telescope

Artists impression of the James Webb Telescope

As of at the time of writing, N.A.S.A. is gearing up to launch the next generation space telescope, the James Webb Telescope. The telescope is over budget and behind schedule, despite attempts to stop the project, the project is continuing. The launch date according to Google is March 30th 2021.

Unlike Hubble, everything has to be working correctly first time, there will be no Space Shuttles to get engineers to the telescope to fix anything that will could possibly go wrong. The fact that the everything has to go right first time is one reason why things are taking a long time, to make sure everything works.

It will be launched on board an Arianne 5 space rocket with no one on board. When its finally launched, we should be able to see further into the cosmos and have clearer, higher quality pictures than we do currently.

Hubble's First Image

The first image that N.A.S.A. received by the telescope was of the star cluster NGC 3532 in the constellation of Carina. The picture to the side is of an image taken, the Hubble one is on the right with a picture taken from an earth based telescope on the left for comparison. The view is near the star HD 96755. The image is copyright from HubbleSite.

First Hubble Image sent


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