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Hubble Space Telescope

NASA/ESA space telescope launched in 1990 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Hubble Space Telescope (often referred to as HST or Hubble) is a space telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation. It was not the first space telescope, but it is one of the largest and most versatile, renowned both as a vital research tool and as a public relations boon for astronomy. The Hubble telescope is named after astronomer Edwin Hubble and is one of NASA's Great Observatories. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) selects Hubble's targets and processes the resulting data, while the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) controls the spacecraft.[8]

Quick facts: Names, Mission type, Operator, COSPAR ID, SAT...
Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope in orbit
Seen in orbit from the departing Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2009, flying Servicing Mission 4 (STS-125), the fifth and final Hubble mission.
Mission typeAstronomy
COSPAR ID1990-037B Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.20580
Mission duration33 years, 1 month and 6 days (ongoing)[1]
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerLockheed Martin (spacecraft)
Perkin-Elmer (optics)
Launch mass11,110 kg (24,490 lb)[2]
Dimensions13.2 m × 4.2 m (43 ft × 14 ft)[2]
Power2,800 watts
Start of mission
Launch dateApril 24, 1990, 12:33:51 UTC[3]
RocketSpace Shuttle Discovery (STS-31)
Launch siteKennedy, LC-39B
ContractorRockwell International
Deployment dateApril 25, 1990[2]
Entered serviceMay 20, 1990[2]
End of mission
Decay date2030–2040 (estimated)[4]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit[5]
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Periapsis altitude537.0 km (333.7 mi)
Apoapsis altitude540.9 km (336.1 mi)
Period95.42 minutes
Main telescope
TypeRitchey–Chrétien reflector
Diameter2.4 m (7 ft 10 in)[6]
Focal length57.6 m (189 ft)[6]
Focal ratiof/24
Collecting area4.0 m2 (43 sq ft)[7]
WavelengthsNear-infrared, visible light, ultraviolet

Hubble features a 2.4 m (7 ft 10 in) mirror, and its five main instruments observe in the ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Hubble's orbit outside the distortion of Earth's atmosphere allows it to capture extremely high-resolution images with substantially lower background light than ground-based telescopes. It has recorded some of the most detailed visible light images, allowing a deep view into space. Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as determining the rate of expansion of the universe.

Space telescopes were proposed as early as 1923, and the Hubble telescope was funded and built in the 1970s by the United States space agency NASA with contributions from the European Space Agency. Its intended launch was in 1983, but the project was beset by technical delays, budget problems, and the 1986 Challenger disaster. Hubble was finally launched in 1990, but its main mirror had been ground incorrectly, resulting in spherical aberration that compromised the telescope's capabilities. The optics were corrected to their intended quality by a servicing mission in 1993.

Hubble is the only telescope designed to be maintained in space by astronauts. Five Space Shuttle missions have repaired, upgraded, and replaced systems on the telescope, including all five of the main instruments. The fifth mission was initially canceled on safety grounds following the Columbia disaster (2003), but after NASA administrator Michael D. Griffin approved it, the servicing mission was completed in 2009. Hubble completed 30 years of operation in April 2020[1] and is predicted to last until 2030–2040.[4]

Hubble is the visible light telescope in NASA's Great Observatories program; other parts of the spectrum are covered by the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope (which covers the infrared bands).[9] The mid-IR-to-visible band successor to the Hubble telescope is the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which was launched on December 25, 2021, with the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope due to follow in 2027.[10][11][12]