The Amazing Hubble


The Amazing Hubble

In the history of modern astronomy, there may have been no greater leap than the building and launch of the space telescope known as Hubble. While NASA has many ups and downs, the continuous launch and operation of the Hubble space telescope may rank next to the moon landing and the development of the Space Shuttle as one of the greatest achievements of space exploration in the last hundred years.

The Amazing Hubble

A remarkable piece of astronomical trivia that few people know is that in fact, only about ten percent of the universe is seen using conventional observation methods. For that reason, Hubble really is a big leap forward. That's because of the very simple reason that Hubble can operate outside the Earth's atmosphere. Trying to do significant space exploration through a telescope from the surface of the planet Earth is very difficult. That is what keeps us alive, our own Earth's atmosphere presents a serious disturbance because it can see deeper and further into space.

The Hubble Space Telescope was named after the great scientist and visionary Edward Hubble who discovered that the universe was expanding which was explained by what is now known in science as Hubble's Law. To truly feel the extraordinary achievements achieved with the launch of the Hubble telescope, take time on the NASA website dedicated to the project at http://hubble.nasa.gov. There are also a number of sites where you can enjoy some amazing images from Hubble including http://heritage.stsci.edu/ and http://www.stsci.edu/ftp/science/hdf/hdf.html.

It's hard to believe how long Hubble has orbited the earth and sent back amazing videos and images of what was found in space. But Hubble was originally launched on April 25, 1990. It was the culmination of decades of research and construction that began in 1977. Expectations were high as orbiting telescopes were put in place and actually began to function as they were designed to do.

Everything is not always perfect with a telescope and the initial photos are very disappointing. After several NASA studies found that the reason for the initial failure was the curvature of one of the main lenses of an orbiting telescope.

We may never be able to maintain this complex equipment operation and we do not have a Space Shuttle program to provide us with the tools to implement improvements and repairs to Hubble. In 1993 a new lens was installed at Hubble that corrected the problem of image resolution recorded in the initial operation of the telescope.

Two other improvement and improvement missions have been made for Hubble since its launch, both in 1997 to upgrade older equipment and to retrofit the telescope to extend its useful life until 2010. It is amazing to think that this scientific and mechanical miracle has been operating now for ten years without treatment. We can be sure that plans are working for NASA to upgrade or replace parts at Hubble to extend its useful life even further because the 2010 time frame is getting closer.

It's hard to imagine astronomy or the search for nature for greater knowledge of our universe without Hubble. While many times those who will not fund space exploration have tried to cut funding for Hubble, the operation of this telescope is too important for astronomers and for the scientific well-being of humans and our planet not to continue using Hubble, or the next natural successor. We will always need to have a set of eyes in the sky to witness the universe and find more of its mysteries.

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