Helen R

Click on the play button to listen to Helen’s podcast as you read along!

The Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Telescope named after the famous American Astronomer, Edwin Hubble, was launched on April 24th, 1990. The telescope has provided NASA with vital information and spectacular insight into the solar system.

Hubble Space Telescope by loomingy1

In early 1923, the first space telescopes were proposed. The Hubble project was funded in 1970 and the proposed launch was 1983. Many people contributed to the planning regarding the systems that would be used to keep the space orbiter fit for service for long periods of time. To maintain a stable temperature within the space telescope, a piece of multi-layer insulation was placed as well as an aluminum shell where the telescope and other instruments sat.

Diagram

The launch of the Hubble, one of the largest and most versatile telescopes was delayed after the Challenger disaster in 1986. NASA’s second space shuttle orbiter ‘The Challenger‘ tore apart 73 seconds into its flight. As well as the uncertainty to whether the Hubble was fully prepared for use, there were technical delays, and budget difficulties. Due to the many issues surrounding the telescope, the launch wasn’t until April 1990.

Once launched, it was visible from the images that although superior to any photo taken from earth, they were not the fine quality pictures expected. As a result, the only solution would be to have the first ever service mission. In December 1993, astronauts serviced the Hubble telescope in space, adding several small mirrors that could intercept the light that was being reflected by the main mirror, correcting the image flaw.

Nebula by Gandalf

After the success of the previous mission, there have been many more adjustments, replacing observing instruments with more modern and capable versions. The last mission was May 2009, allowing the telescope to function until at least 2014 at which time the JWST (James Webb Space Telescope) is due to be launched.

The Hubble telescope has now been in service for 19 years and has been a public relations boon for astronomy. Although the JWST is far superior to the Hubble, it is not designed to replace current telecopes, but to complement them.

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4 Responses

  1. what an subject to choose hardly anyone else chose that well done.

  2. Great work!! You have loads of infomation! I didn’t know it was launched in 1923!

  3. Nice Job Helen. Best Wishes.
    Love Grandpa & Uncle Jeff

  4. This is an excellent report on the Hubble Space Telescope. It contains a good balance of essential information and interesting details. I also like the pictures you included. This is an extraordinary scientific instrument and it required an immense engineering effort to put such a large and delicate object into space. The images it produces are far better than those from even the largest optical telescopes on earth. Well done to you on a great report and an excellent audio commentary as well.

    Lots of love,
    Dad 😉

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