Hubble Space Telescope

Hubble Space Telescope

Courtesy of NASA

http://hubble.nasa.gov/



Overview
The Hubble Space Telescope, named after astronomer Edwin Hubble, was put into orbit by the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990. It is still functioning more than 20 years later, thanks to it being designed so astronauts can service it and make repairs, similar to what auto mechanics do for cars. Its extremely detailed images of the farthest places in the universe have been responsible for many scientific discoveries. The aperture (2.4 meters) is very large, but the Hubble isn’t just a telescope—it’s a combination of cameras, spectrographs, photometers, mirrors, gyroscopes, and electronics.


Launch
April 24, 1990


Orbit
Low earth


End of Mission
Still operating


Goals
Use a large, space-based observatory to provide unprecedented deep and clear views of the universe, ranging from our own solar system to extremely remote fledgling galaxies.


Findings
One of NASA's most successful and long-lasting science missions, Hubble has beamed hundreds of thousands of images back to Earth, shedding light on many of the great mysteries of astronomy.

  • Helped determine the age of the universe, the identity of quasars, and the existence of dark energy.
  • Revealed the age of the universe to be about 13 to 14 billion years, much more accurate than the old range of anywhere from 10 to 20 billion years.
  • Played a key role in the discovery of dark energy, a mysterious force that causes the expansion of the universe to accelerate.
  • Shown galaxies in all stages of evolution, including toddler galaxies that were around when the universe was still young, helping understand how galaxies form.
  • Found protoplanetary disks, clumps of gas and dust around young stars that likely function as birthing grounds for new planets.
  • Discovered that gamma-ray bursts—strange, incredibly powerful explosions of energy—occur in far-distant galaxies when massive stars collapse.

More than 7,000 scientific articles have been published based on Hubble data.