The Hubble Space Telescope is a space telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation. It is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble.
The Hubble Space Telescope has an active lifespan of around five more years before it will need to be replaced with either another space telescope or by using telecommunication satellites to provide advanced data transmission.
Its successor, known as JWST (James Webb Space Telescope), is currently expected to be operational sometime between 2021-2025 with its launch date tentatively set for 2018. The JWST promises better imaging performance than the HST through a bigger primary mirror, longer exposure time, and infrared observations without infrared interference – making it the next great observatory after the HST. The JWST will be now launched on December 18th this year if everything goes to plan.
A few things make the Hubble Telescope different from other telescopes. First, it’s in low Earth orbit, whereas most other telescopes are located on the ground.
This means that it can be pointed at a target without waiting for the Earth to turn (which takes 24 hours).
Second, even though it was launched in 1990, Hubble continues to do cutting-edge science and remains the only telescope we’ve sent into orbit around Earth.
The Hubble Space Telescope has been an enormously successful scientific endeavor. It has allowed astronomers to see into the far reaches of the universe, even being able to locate and study previously unknown galaxies that are billions of light-years away.
The HST works by focusing on light from objects such as stars and galaxies which is then translated back into data that can be understood by scientists.
This telescope has basically revolutionized our understanding of the universe and helped create a better world for us all since we know more about how we got here and where we’ll go next. This discovery is one of the most important in all the history of astronomy, and it would not have been possible without this wonderful telescope.
The Hubble Space Telescope uses 5 main instruments:
- The ACS/WFC is a camera that observes in three different broad wavelength range bands. It observes at ultraviolet wavelengths, visible light wavelengths, and near-infrared wavelengths.
- The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) can search for dark matter, map the distribution of quasars and other high-redshift galaxies, and probe the origin of cosmic rays.
- The Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) is an integral part of the Hubble space telescope. The main function of the spectrograph is to produce 3D images of gas and dust around nearby galaxies. This includes measuring the composition or chemical types, temperatures, density, and velocities of these objects.
- Wide Field Camera 3 is a high-resolution optical imaging camera. The camera has a wide field of view providing almost an arc minute of the sky. This can capture images with details finer than 0.04 arcseconds, enough to see the shapes of individual galaxies.
- Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer NICMOS help astronomers see supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies. It is a high spatial resolution camera that observes light from long wavelengths. The wavelength range is from 1 micron to 2 millimeters.
This makes NICMOS the most sensitive infrared instrument when it’s operating at these wavelengths. It’s so big that it can see planets around other stars and take photos of galaxies much farther away than any we’ve seen before.
Hubble has the longest lifespan of any space observatory, at nearly 32 years.
The Hubble Telescope was designed with certain limitations to be cost-effective, which is why it does not have a built-in ability to repair itself. When the Hubble had malfunctions due to problems with some of its parts, NASA sent astronauts up to fix it. When Hubble got launched, NASA soon discovered that the mirror was not sharp enough. In 1993 NASA sent their first servicing mission to give the space telescope “glasses” to correct this error. There were a total of 5 servicing missions from 1993 up to 2009.
The last time Hubble was fixed and upgraded was in 2009. Hubble is working completely fine, but it won’t be repaired again. NASA and its partners are creating the James Webb Space Telescope and it’s said to be much bigger and better than Hubble.
Unlike Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope won’t orbit around the Earth. It’ll orbit around the Sun and travel the distance beyond the Moon to give us some amazing pictures that haven’t been taken yet.
The size of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is truly impressive. Here are the details:
- Length: 43.5 feet (13.2 meters)
- Weight: 24,500 lbs. (11,110 kilograms)
- Maximum diameter: 14 feet (4.2 m)
Hubble has built-in shields to protect the highly polished 8.8-foot diameter primary mirror from drag or small pieces of space debris that otherwise might bounce off Hubble’s surface.
The best protection Hubble provides against small debris is an absorbent, multi-layer coating called a PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) Coating which takes about two weeks to apply. The thickness ranges from one micron at the edge to five or six microns near the center of the mirror – just enough to deflect all but 1 cm in size objects. Naturally, there are other ways Hubble can be damaged, but space “dander” isn’t one of them! From earth’s perspective, any impact would be very low unless it was larger than a tennis ball.
First, it is important to note that when cleaning the lens of your telescope. You should always wear protective eyewear to avoid getting dust or dirt in your eyes. Next, use a water-moistened cloth and gently wipe the lens without scratching the glass. If the dust isn’t coming off easily, use a brush designed for telescopes.
The Hubble sends light from the object being photographed to the camera through a prism. The light bounces off a mirror and is directed onto a detector.
How much light makes it to the detector depends on the color of the object being photographed. So four different filters are used to isolate red, green, blue, and yellow.