Saturday, June 5, 2021

The Hubble Space Telescope

Gazing through his first crude telescope in the 17th century, Galileo discovered the craters of the Moon, the satellites of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. These early observations led the way to today’s quest for in-depth knowledge and understanding of the cosmos.

Initial discussion of an orbiting telescope, led by Lyman Spitzer and Leo Goldberg in the late 1940s, generally met with little enthusiasms. Ground based astronomy remained more attractive to most astronomers, as shown by the national observatory campaign of the next decade.

In the 1970s, NASA and ESA took up the idea of a space-based telescope. This led to suggestions for a federally funded Large Space Telescope with a 3-meter mirror.

The telescope soon became linked with the proposed space shuttle as an important payload and as a target for later maintenance missions.

Funding began to flow in 1977. It received its name in honor of famous astronomer Edwin Hubble.

The instrument proved much more difficult to design than originally thought, leading to higher costs, further modifications and a complete management shake-up in 1983.

Hubble Space Telescope was finally launched on 24 April 1990. The successful launch of the telescope appeared to justify the $1.6 billion project costs (more than four times the original estimate), but the instrument soon proved seriously flawed. The main mirror had been ground to the wrong figure, making precise focusing impossible.

The NASA review panel report, issued in November, concluded that inadequate testing procedures had led to the misshapen mirror.

Since its launch in April 1990, Hubble has provided scientific data and images of unprecedented resolution that have generated many new and exciting discoveries.

The scientific rewards that Hubble Space Telescope promised are at hand. In 1996, Hubble Space Telescope took its 100,000 exposure – a milestone that some thought would never come.

NASA has suspended mission to repair and modernized Hubble Space Telescope. It assumed in 2021 Hubble Space Telescope will be replaced with the new James Webb Space Telescope.
The Hubble Space Telescope

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