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The Hubble Space Telescope

The @stro object for the week of 03/20/2000

image of the Hubble Space Telescope

image courtesy of STSCI

The Hubble Space Telescope. The Hubble Space Telescope, commonly referred to as the "HST", is named for Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) who is credited with making ground breaking discoveries in astronomy such as the discovery of redshift. The HST was placed into low-Earth orbit by the Space Shuttle in 1990 and without a doubt the Hubble Space Telescope continues to be one of the most powerful astronomical research tools in existence today.

When it was first launched the HST suffered from "spherical aberration" in its primary mirror but a Shuttle servicing mission in 1993 installed corrective optics that alleviated this problem. Since this correction the HST has continued to function and return incredible pictures recognized by the public worldwide. It has also been the recipient of more servicing missions since that 1993 mission, the last one occurring in 1999.

The HST utilizes multiple imaging instruments. Among the most notable is the Wide Field/Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) from which incredible views have resulted. These celestial sites include such wonders as star formation in the Trifid Nebula, to viewing the rings around Saturn, to spying on the wispy gas clouds in the Reflection Nebula, to providing our first images ever of a cometary impact on another planet when Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 slammed into Jupiter .

Hubble is getting its own stamp in the US Postal Service's "Space Achievement and Exploration" stamp set this year. The HST is part of NASA's Great Observatories program (see also Chandra X-Ray Telescope) and is expected to continue operation through 2010.

Current information for the Hubble Space Telescope:
Aperture: 2.4 meters
Focal Length (without correction): f/24
Mission Launched: April 25, 1990
Expected Mission Duration: 20 years

more info from STSCI...

go straight to the pictures...

find out where the HST is now (online Java app)...

check out the stamp design...

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