The Hubble Telescope is a telescope in orbit around the Earth. It was launched into space on April 25, 1990, and is basically a giant observatory on board a space station.
Its position outside the Earth’s atmosphere provides a significant advantage over ground based telescopes as the images are not blurred by the atmosphere, there is no background light scattered from the atmosphere, and it can observe ultra-violet light that is absorbed by the ozone layer.
Since launched into space, the Hubble Space Telescope has become one of the most important instruments in the history of astronomy. It has been responsible for many ground breaking observations and has helped astronomers achieve a better understanding of many fundamental problems in astrophysics.
Hubble’s ultra deep field is the most sensitive astronomical optical image ever taken. Originally conceived in 1946, the Hubble Space Telescope was imagined as one of the most advance telescopes of its kind. The project to build this space telescope was plagued by delays and budget problems. Immediately after its launch, it was found that the main mirror suffered from spherical aberration which severely compromised the telescope’s capabilities.
In 1993, NASA sent astronauts into space to make repairs to this problem and the telescope was restored to its intended quality. The Hubble Space Telescope has proven to be a vital research tool as well as a public relations boost for astronomy.
It is one of the most famous telescopes in the world and a valuable teaching tool for many. As with any telescope, maintenance and care will keep it operating properly.
Because the Hubble Telescope is located in space, that makes it difficult to do. The future of the telescope depends a lot on the success of its next servicing mission. Several of its stabilizing gyroscopes have failed.
The gyroscopes are used to point the telescope in various directions. Another failure will seriously compromise the ability to point the telescope.
Servicing these gyroscopes will require a manned service mission so that they can be replaced. Another problem that is occurring with the Hubble Space Telescope is that its main camera stopped working in late January of 2007. Without manned servicing, only its ultraviolet channel will be usable.
Also a reboost is needed to increase the diameter of the orbit or else drag will cause Hubble to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere sometime after 2010. Right now a manned service mission is planned for September of 2008. The Hubble Space Telescope has been responsible for many important discoveries and losing it could be a blow to the world of astronomy.
However, it is going to be replaced sometime in 2013 by the James Webb Space Telescope. Until then, we need the Hubble Space Telescope to make further advancements in astronomy.
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