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The Hubble Telescope is a space telescope launched in 1990 by NASA. It is in a low Earth orbit and is famous for its incredible images of our solar system and beyond.

The Hubble telescope is a space telescope which has been in orbit since 1990. It is a reflector telescope with a 2.4 meter mirror. The telescope has instruments that can detect visible light, ultraviolet, and infrared. Shortly after its launch in 1990, astronomers noticed that the images they were significantly more blurry than they expected. In 1993 NASA launched a mission to correct an issue with the telescope’s main mirror. A crew of NASA astronauts were sent on board the space shuttle Endeavour from the Kennedy Space Center to add a corrective optics package.

The space telescope was built by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) with some funding by ESA (European Space Agency). It is controlled from the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. Space telescopes are very expensive to make, put into orbit, and maintain. They offer huge benefits over ground-based telescopes. Putting the telescope into orbit removes the effects of the Earth’s atmosphere which can distort images. There are also much lower rates of light pollution.

The telescope is named after the American astrophysicist Edwin Hubble. Hubble produced a range of important work on the expansion of the universe. The telescope has allowed scientists to collect data on a wide range of different parts of the universe. The Hubble telescope provided data allowing astronomers to calculate Hubble constant with more accuracy. This allowed us to estimate the age of the universe with more confidence. The telescope was also used to take images of dark areas of the sky. Hubble was used to discover four of the five moons known to currently be orbiting the dwarf planet Pluto.

As the Hubble telescope comes to the end of its operational life, scientists have already started building its replacement. The James Webb Space Telescope is a joint project between NASA, ESA and CSA and is due to be launched in 2019. This new space telescope is larger and will allow us to see farther and fainter objects.

Check out some Hubble images yourself.

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List of Notable Space Telescopes

  • Herschel Space Observatory - Infrared (2009 - 2013)
  • Planck - Microwave (2009 - 2013)
  • Swift Gamma Ray Burst Explorer - Visible and Ultraviolet (2004 - present day)
  • Uhuru - X-ray (1970 - 1973)
  • OAO-2 (Orbiting Astronomical Observatory) - Ultraviolet (2 - 18 March 1993)
Learn more about the stars and other celestial bodies in our Picture Encyclopedia of Astronomy Terms!
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