The Hubble Space Telescope, built by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), was launched in 1990. It is in orbit around the Earth, outside the bounds of our atmosphere. The Hubble is capable of taking pictures of space phenomena and sending them back down to Earth.
The Hubble, named after American astronomer Edwin Hubble, is a large and powerful telescope. It is capable of seeing not only the visible range of light, but also the ultra-violet spectrum and parts of the infrared spectrum. Its primary mirror is 94.5 inches in diameter. It makes its journey around the Earth every 96 minutes at an orbit of 360 miles. The Hubble is powered by solar energy, which is stored in batteries.
The Hubble is capable of taking incredibly vivid, detailed images of deep space phenomena. By launching the telescope into outer space, scientists removed its most significant obstacle; the Earth's atmosphere. It's because it looks straight through the void of space that the Hubble can take such glorious pictures. The Hubble is NASA's most successful and famous telescope. It has helped to establish a more accurate estimate of the age of the universe. It has shown the way that galaxies evolve. The Hubble's impact on science is unprecedented. It has provided never-before-seen images of the universe.
The Hubble's launch had originally been scheduled for October of 1986. However, the Challenger disaster in January of that year put a damper on the space program. After a delay of nearly four years, the Hubble was finally launched. The telescope needed repairs very soon after its launch because the pictures were blurrier than expected. In 1993, a crew of seven astronauts was sent to replace the photometer and camera and to make other repairs. The Hubble telescope has outlived its predicted life span of 15 years. However, it will not last forever. The Hubble's final repairs in 2008 will extend its life to 2013.
The Hubble telescope isn't just an optical device. It's also a space craft in its own right. It also has sophisticated communications equipment that allows it to receive instructions from Earth. Its two solar arrays are on the sides of the telescope, which forms the main body of the station. The Hubble also has several computers on board that receive messages from the telescope's instruments and which manage the function of the gyroscopes. There is also a backup computer in case of system failure.
Many people think the Hubble was the first space telescope to be sent into orbit. In fact, there were others that came before it. The U.K. launched a space telescope in 1962, followed by another telescope launched by the U.S. in 1966.
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