Top Facts About The Hubble Space Telescope

By Antonia Čirjak on January 28 2020 in World Facts

Space Telescope in Orbit
Space Telescope in Orbit

The Hubble telescope, since its launch in 1990, has given us insight into space and the galaxies that surround us. Creating millions of pictures, the Hubble telescope has continued to be a valuable tool for space exploration. It has amazed us with incredible images of different star objects, galaxies far away, supernovas, and nebulas. 

5. Named After Edwin Hubble

Edwin Powell Hubble on a stamp. Credit: Olga Popova /
Edwin Powell Hubble on a stamp. Credit: Olga Popova /

Mr. Edwin Hubble was an American astronomer who spent his whole life researching the mysteries of the universe. Several groundbreaking findings are associated with Edwin Hubble. He was the first astronomer to recognize Andromeda as a separate galaxy and debunked the previous opinion that it was ‘’only’’ a nebula. In 1929, Hubble also found evidence that showed how galaxies actually move from one another, and that they were not static, as was the popular theory before that. 

4. Decades In The Making

The Hubble Space Telescope.
The Hubble Space Telescope

The idea of a telescope that would be launched beyond Earth’s orbit came in 1946, and that was even before NASA came to life as an organization. Lyman Spitzer Jr., another famous American theoretical physicist, and astronomer explained how much better images of space would be created if they were not taken from Earth. This is because the Earth’s atmosphere, with all its layers, usually led to very blurry pictures. This idea was pushed by Spitzer Jr. many times, but it was not until 1977 when the US Congress approved the funding for the telescope. 

3. Almost Cancelled Because Of The Challenger Tragedy

The launch of a space shuttle.
The launch of a space shuttle

In 1986, during the launch of the shuttle named Challenger, things went horribly wrong, and the shuttle exploded as it took off, killing all seven members of the crew. This was a tough time for NASA, and most of its space fleet was grounded, leaving Hubble with no one to transport it into Earth’s orbit. This delay gave the scientists more time to develop various systems on the Hubble, but it also raised the cost of the whole project, around $1 billion over the budget. 

2. It Took Off With A Major Undetected Flaw

The astronauts had the job to install a device called COSTAR.
The astronauts had the job to install a device called COSTAR

It does sound unbelievable, but the Hubble telescope, after so many years in development, actually went into orbit with a huge flaw. One of its focusing lenses has been set up wrong, and all of the images that it sent down to Earth were awfully blurry. Another 3 years went by before this was corrected. In December of 1993, another mission was underway where astronauts had the job to install a device called COSTAR. Astronauts succeeded in their mission, installing tiny mirrors during their spacewalks, finally offsetting the focusing problem the telescope had. 

1. Black And White Pictures Only?

Night sky with stars and nebula.
Night sky with stars and nebula

Yes, it is true, the Hubble telescope can not take shots in color. All of the colors you see in those breathtaking pictures of stars and galaxies come together in post-production. The way the scientist figure out how to color the gray-scaled photos is by taking several shots of the same object but using different filters - mostly red, green, and blue. Those shots are later compiled together into a single picture. The Hubble telescope can also detect light in the ultraviolet and infrared range, which are invisible to the human eye. Scientists use those spectrums as well, to provide more detail and colors to the pictures of the universe. 

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