Written by Manya Pandey, a first-year undergraduate student
NASA, the US space agency, launched what’s called The Hubble space telescope into space 32 years ago in April 1990.
What’s the Hubble telescope
It’s a really big observatory (a telescope that observes things in space) in space that has a super clear view of the universe. It is used by scientists to observe distant stars, galaxies planets, etc, in our solar system.
It was initially called the Large Space Telescope, and it took many, many years of planning and research before it was finally launched on April 24, 1990.
Fun Fact: The Hubble Telescope has made more than 1.5 million observations over the course of its lifetime.
Think of it like a big cylinder orbiting (going around) the earth that sends research data back to observatories on Earth.
Note: The Hubble telescope does not travel to stars, planets, or galaxies – it takes their pictures as it orbits the Earth.
Who is Hubble named after?
It’s named after a famous American astronomer, Edwin Hubble.
Why was he famous?
He was the first person to discover the fact that there were more galaxies than our Milky Way in space!
About Edwin Hubble
Edwin Powell Hubble was a gifted astronomer and scientist. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and astronomy from the University of Chicago in 1906 and got a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Chicago.
He volunteered for the U.S. Army during World War 1, after which he went to work at the Mount Wilson Observatory in California, USA. It is here that he made this big discovery of galaxies.
Mount Wilson Observatory at that time had a d a 100-inch Hooker Telescope, which was the world’s largest telescope from 1917 to 1949.
After much work and observation of light emitted by these galaxies, he found out in 1929 that
- The light patches mistaken as dust and clouds are millions of other galaxies scattered across the universe.
- The universe itself is expanding, it is not restricted to a fixed area. Because these galaxies were moving away from each other.
Back to the Hubble telescope that’s named after Edwin Hubble..
What does the Hubble telescope do?
It helps scientists to pinpoint and magnify the far-away stars and galaxies that otherwise can not be observed due to light-years of distance.
One light-year equals 9.5 trillion kilometres.
What has it been doing in space?
The Hubble telescope has been taking high-resolution pictures of events happening in space for the past 32 years like the birth and death of stars, crashing comets, etc.
So far it has made more than a million observations and has shot high-quality beautiful pictures of planets and galaxies outside the milky way (Earth is in the Milky Way galaxy)
What makes the Hubble telescope different?
The main difference is that the Hubble telescope flies (or orbits) the Earth above its atmosphere, which is why it can see space clearly.
You can’t really see through the Hubble with your eye. It uses a digital camera to take pictures and then it uses radio waves to send the pictures back to Earth.
What if it gets damaged?
All machines need cleaning and repairs from time to time.
Satellites and space telescopes can get damaged by things like solar storms, or meteorites. They might even collide with other space debris.
That’s why scientists designed the Hubble telescope in a way that it could be visited for repairs and replacement. In total, there have been 5 servicing missions performed by astronauts to fix and update the technology.
The servicing missions were jointly carried out by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Johnson Space Center in Texas and Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
Do you know? The atmospheric force acting for several years pushes the smaller space objects slightly off the orbit of a planet. To avoid this issue, the service crew pushed the Hubble a bit higher into orbit by releasing the shuttle’s thrusters.
Fun facts about the Hubble Space Telescope
- According to Arizona University, Hubble has observed over a distance of 13.4 billion light-years away, which means it has observed the universe that existed 13.4 billion years ago.
- Hubble transmits about 150 gigabits of raw science data every week. That’s 18 times more than the memory of your average desktop computer.
- The Hubble is powered directly by the sun
- Hubble’s speed is about 27,000 kph.
- The Hubble has circled Earth and gone more than 6 billion km along the Earth’s orbit
That was all about the Hubble Space Telescope.
To check out your space knowledge, try taking our space and astronomy quiz right here!
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