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Last Updated on March 2, 2024 by Universe Unriddled

Facts About the Hubble Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the most remarkable scientific instruments ever built.

It has provided us with a wealth of information about our universe and has helped us answer some of the most fundamental questions we have about our existence.

Since its launch in 1990, the Hubble has been orbiting around 350 miles above Earth’s surface, completing 15 orbits per day, approximately one every 95 minutes.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a Cassegrain reflector telescope, which means it uses mirrors to reflect light and form images. It was the first telescope designed to be repaired in space, and it has undergone five servicing missions to date.

The telescope has played a pivotal role in advancing our understanding of astronomy and astrophysics, and has helped us explore the electromagnetic spectrum in ways we never thought possible.

One of the most remarkable features of the Hubble Space Telescope is its ability to take images of distant, faint objects.

To do this, it must be extremely steady and accurate. In fact, its pointing accuracy is so precise that it could aim a laser beam at a dime from 200 miles away.

The initial instruments on the Hubble included two cameras, two spectrographs, and a fine guidance sensor. These instruments were designed to capture light in the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared parts of the spectrum, allowing us to see objects that would otherwise be invisible to us.

History of the Hubble Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope has been in operation for over three decades, providing us with breathtaking images of the cosmos and revolutionizing our understanding of the universe. Let’s take a look at the history of this remarkable instrument.

Launch and Deployment

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into low Earth orbit on April 24, 1990, aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

The telescope’s deployment was not without its challenges, as a flaw in the mirror’s curvature caused a spherical aberration that significantly reduced the telescope’s image quality.

Despite this setback, the Hubble has since been repaired and upgraded through a series of servicing missions.

Servicing Missions

The Hubble has been serviced and upgraded by astronauts on five separate occasions, with the most recent mission taking place in 2009.

The servicing missions have added new instruments and replaced aging hardware, allowing the telescope to continue operating at peak performance.

Some of the most significant upgrades include the installation of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, the Solar Array Cooling System, and the Advanced Camera for Surveys.

The $1.5 Billion Blunder

The initial flaw in the Hubble’s mirror was a costly mistake, with the telescope’s development and launch costing $1.5 billion.

The mistake was a significant setback for NASA and the scientific community, as the Hubble was intended to be a flagship instrument for the study of the universe.

However, the Hubble’s subsequent repairs and upgrades have more than made up for the initial mistake, with the telescope continuing to provide groundbreaking insights into the cosmos.

The Hubble Telescope has been instrumental in our understanding of the universe, from the study of distant galaxies to the exploration of our own solar system.

The telescope’s initial instruments, including the Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph and the High-Speed Photometer, paved the way for the development of new technologies and techniques in space exploration.

Today, the Hubble continues to operate in orbit, providing us with stunning images of celestial objects like the Andromeda Galaxy and helping us to unravel the mysteries of the cosmos.

In recognition of its contributions to science, the Hubble Telescope has been awarded numerous honors, including a Nobel Prize in Physics for the team responsible for the discovery of dark energy.

Despite setbacks like the Challenger disaster and the initial spherical aberration, the Hubble remains a testament to human ingenuity and the power of scientific exploration.

Scientific Instruments on Board the Hubble Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope has a suite of scientific instruments that enable it to observe the universe in different wavelengths of light, from ultraviolet to near-infrared.

Each instrument is designed to operate in a particular wavelength range and function as an imaging camera or a spectrometer, though some instruments do both.

Wide Field Camera 3

The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) is the most advanced camera on board the Hubble telescope. It can observe a wide range of wavelengths from ultraviolet to near-infrared, and has a resolution of 0.04 arcseconds, which enables it to capture images of distant galaxies and stars with incredible detail.

The WFC3 has been used to study a wide range of astronomical phenomena, from the Andromeda galaxy to the Deep Field Image.

Cosmic Origins Spectrograph

The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) is a high-resolution spectrograph that can observe ultraviolet light from distant galaxies and quasars.

It is designed to study the composition and evolution of the universe, including the distribution of dark matter and the formation of galaxies. The COS has also been used to study the intergalactic medium and the properties of black holes.

Advanced Camera for Surveys

The Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) is a versatile camera that can observe a wide range of wavelengths from ultraviolet to near-infrared.

It has a resolution of 0.03 arcseconds, which enables it to capture images of distant galaxies and stars with incredible detail.

The ACS has been used to study a wide range of astronomical phenomena, including the formation of stars and galaxies, the properties of dark matter, and the evolution of the universe.

Fine Guidance Sensors

The Fine Guidance Sensors (FGS) are used to stabilize the telescope and keep it pointed accurately at its target. They can also be used to observe nearby stars and planets, and to measure the distance to nearby galaxies.

The FGS have been used to study the properties of the main focusing mirror and the corrective optics space telescope axial replacement.

Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer

The Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) is a camera and spectrometer that can observe near-infrared light from distant galaxies and stars.

It has a resolution of 0.2 arcseconds, which enables it to capture images of distant objects with incredible detail.

The NICMOS has been used to study the properties of dark matter, the formation of stars and galaxies, and the evolution of the universe.

Faint Object Camera

The Faint Object Camera (FOC) was one of the original instruments on board the Hubble telescope. It was designed to observe faint objects in space, such as distant galaxies and quasars.

The FOC had a resolution of 0.05 arcseconds, which enabled it to capture images of distant objects with incredible detail.

The FOC was used to study a wide range of astronomical phenomena, including the properties of black holes and the distribution of dark matter.

Faint Object Spectrograph

The Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS) was another original instrument on board the Hubble telescope. It was designed to observe the spectra of faint objects in space, such as distant galaxies and quasars.

The FOS had a resolution of 0.1 arcseconds, which enabled it to capture spectra of distant objects with incredible detail. The FOS was used to study a wide range of astronomical phenomena, including the properties of black holes and the distribution of dark matter.

The scientific instruments on board the Hubble Space Telescope have enabled astronomers to study the universe in unprecedented detail.

From the wide field camera 3 to the fine guidance sensors, each instrument has its own unique capabilities and has contributed to our understanding of the universe.

With the upcoming launch of the James Webb Telescope, astronomers will be able to study the universe in even greater detail, building on the legacy of the Hubble telescope.

Discoveries Made by the Hubble Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope has made numerous groundbreaking discoveries since its launch in 1990.

From galaxies and black holes to asteroids and dark energy, the Hubble has expanded our understanding of the universe.

In this section, we will explore some of the most significant discoveries made by the Hubble Telescope.

Galaxies and the Age of the Universe

One of the most important discoveries made by the Hubble Telescope is the age of the universe.

By observing distant galaxies, the Hubble was able to measure the rate of expansion of the universe and calculate its age to be approximately 13.8 billion years old.

The Hubble also provided evidence for the existence of dark matter, which makes up approximately 27% of the universe.

Supermassive Black Holes

The Hubble Telescope has also provided valuable insights into the behavior of supermassive black holes.

By studying the movement of stars around the center of galaxies, the Hubble was able to confirm the existence of supermassive black holes.

The Hubble also provided evidence for the existence of intermediate-mass black holes, which were previously thought to be theoretical.

Distant Galaxies and the Hubble Deep Field

The Hubble Deep Field is one of the most famous images taken by the Hubble Telescope. This image captured a tiny patch of sky that appeared to be empty, but upon closer inspection, revealed thousands of distant galaxies.

The Hubble Deep Field provided astronomers with a glimpse into the early universe, allowing them to study the formation and evolution of galaxies.

Asteroids and the Solar System

The Hubble Telescope has also been used to study asteroids and other objects in our solar system.

By observing the size and composition of asteroids, the Hubble has provided valuable insights into the formation of our solar system.

The Hubble has also been used to study the atmospheres of planets in our solar system, including Jupiter and Saturn.

Dark Energy

One of the most mysterious and elusive concepts in cosmology is dark energy, which is believed to be responsible for the accelerating expansion of the universe.

The Hubble Telescope played a key role in the discovery of dark energy by measuring the brightness of distant supernovae. These measurements showed that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, which can only be explained by the presence of dark energy.

In conclusion, the Hubble Space Telescope has made numerous groundbreaking discoveries since its launch in 1990.

From galaxies and black holes to asteroids and dark energy, the Hubble has expanded our understanding of the universe.

Thanks to the Hubble, we now have a deeper appreciation for the vastness and complexity of the cosmos!

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