The Hubble Space Telescope
“It’s always a combination of physics and poetry that I find inspiring. It’s hard to wrap your head around things like the Hubble Scope.” -Tom Hanks
Hubble was funded in the 1970s, with a proposed launch in 1983, but the project was plagued by technical delays, budget problems, and the Challenger disaster.
It was finally launched into low Earth orbit in 1990, and to this day remains in operation. The telescope is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble.
With a 7.9 ft mirror, Hubble’s four main instruments observe in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared spectra. Hubble’s orbit outside the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere allows it to take extremely high-resolution images with negligible background light. Hubble has recorded some of the most detailed visible-light images ever, allowing a deep view into space and time. Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics.
Hubble is the only telescope designed to be serviced in space by astronauts. After launch by Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990, four subsequent Space Shuttle missions repaired, upgraded, and replaced systems on the telescope. A fifth mission was canceled on safety grounds following the Columbia disaster. The final servicing was completed in 2009. It’s predicted that Hubble will eventually decay and reenter Earth’s atmosphere around 2040.
“Even Hubble hasn’t found yet the end of this universe, and we don’t know that it has any end.” -Billy Graham