14 Fascinating Facts About The Hubble Space Telescope

Were you aware that the Hubble Space Telescope has a weight equivalent to 11 fully grown polar bears?

The Hubble Space Telescope, also known as HST, has been at the forefront of space exploration, from determining the age of the universe to identifying distant and nearly invisible planets and solar systems.

The telescope has been accountable for many theories concerning extraterrestrial life, thanks to its discovery of new phenomena and objects.

Tracy K. Smith summed up the sentiments of many regarding the telescope:

“I don’t know how anyone can look at the Hubble ‘Deep Field’ image and not feel like something else is going on out there”.

Here, we will examine 14 facts about this revolving icon of exploration.

By spring 2011, Hubble had completed over 115,000 orbits around the Earth. This equates to approximately 5 billion km (over 3.1 billion miles), or the distance to Neptune.

The Hubble Space Telescope is extremely precise, capable of locking onto a target with an accuracy of 7/1000th of an arcsecond (1° is divided into 60 arcminutes, and each arcminute into 60 arcseconds). In simpler terms, it can distinguish the width of a human hair viewed from a mile away.

The HST weighs 11 tons and is 13.2m in length, which is roughly the same as 11 polar bears and just under three and a half Mini Coopers in length.

The HST can view the farthest galaxies ever detected, but it cannot observe a few nearby objects, such as the Sun (which is too bright and could damage its sensors) and Mercury (due to its proximity to the Sun).

The Hubble Space Telescope is, at its core, an expensive, intricate, giant digital camera. Its instruments capture the light of the universe using electronic detectors.

The HST uses little power compared to its size and function, consuming only about 2800 watts. This is just 1300 watts more than a hair dryer on the highest setting, which uses 1500 watts. The telescope powers itself with solar panels that measure 2.6 x 7.1 m.

Hubble’s images are sent back in black and white. During image processing, color images are created by merging two or more black and white exposures through colored filters.

The launch of the Hubble program was delayed in 1986 after the Challenger space shuttle disaster. Scientists utilized this time to refine and enhance the telescope until its launch in 1990, but it went over budget by more than $1 billion.

When the first images were received in 1990, they revealed that the primary focusing mirror was polished incorrectly, causing images to be blurred. The so-called “1.5 Billion Blunder” was rectified in 1993 when a group of astronauts installed a small mirrored device called CORSTAR.

The Hubble Space Telescope is quite speedy, traveling around the world 11 times faster than the maximum altitude speed of a Eurofighter Typhoon (2495km/h) at a pace of 28,000 km/h.

Hubble revealed that the universe is around 13 to 14 billion years old, which was a significantly more accurate estimate than the previous range of 10 to 20 billion years. It was also instrumental in the discovery of dark energy, a force linked to the rate of the universe’s expansion.

The Hubble telescope has captured some incredible images, including the Bubble Nebula blown into space by a massive star, which was chosen to commemorate the telescope’s launch in 1990. Edwin Powell Hubble, the astronomer the telescope is named after, initially studied law but later became a renowned astronomer. The Hubble has also snapped images of exoplanets using high-contrast cameras to block out the bright stars they orbit. Despite initial setbacks and high costs, the Hubble has been successful in providing us with valuable information and inspiring us to continue exploring space. The Webb telescope is the next space telescope to be launched, and we can only imagine what it will discover with its heightened sensors.


1. What is the Hubble Space Telescope?

The Hubble Space Telescope is a large telescope orbiting Earth that was launched in 1990. It is named after Edwin Hubble, a famous astronomer who discovered that the universe is expanding. The telescope is about the size of a school bus and weighs about 24,500 pounds. It has a 2.4-meter mirror and can observe the universe in visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light.

2. How long has the Hubble Space Telescope been in operation?

The Hubble Space Telescope has been in operation for over 30 years. It was launched into space in April 1990 and has been sending back stunning images and groundbreaking scientific discoveries ever since. The telescope was originally intended to last for 15 years, but has been upgraded and repaired several times by astronauts on space shuttle missions, allowing it to continue operating well beyond its expected lifespan.

3. What kind of discoveries has the Hubble Space Telescope made?

The Hubble Space Telescope has made many groundbreaking discoveries since it was launched. It has helped astronomers to determine the age of the universe, discovered that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, and found evidence of dark matter. The telescope has also captured stunning images of distant galaxies, star clusters, and nebulas, providing a unique glimpse into the beauty and complexity of the universe.

4. How far can the Hubble Space Telescope see?

The Hubble Space Telescope can see incredibly far into the universe, up to about 13.4 billion light-years away. This means that it can observe some of the earliest galaxies and stars that formed after the Big Bang. The telescope has also been used to study objects within our own solar system, such as planets, asteroids, and comets.

5. What is the future of the Hubble Space Telescope?

While the Hubble Space Telescope has been in operation for over 30 years, it won’t last forever. The telescope is expected to continue operating until at least 2025, but its future beyond that is uncertain. NASA is currently working on a replacement telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, which is set to launch in 2021 and will be even more powerful than Hubble. However, the Hubble Space Telescope will always be remembered as one of the most important scientific instruments in history, revolutionizing our understanding of the universe and inspiring generations of scientists and space enthusiasts.

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