Facts About the Hubble Telescope
For the interested astronomer or even the hobbyist, these 5 facts about the hubble telescope are not only fun but important to know. NASA’s little project has a lot of fans and followers, so if you’re one of the many then take the time to educate yourself with some of these fun facts.
It Wasn’t A Smooth Start
The Hubble telescope went through the normal woes of any multibillion dollar project, and it didn’t help that it was a cross funded project between NASA and the European Space Agency. There were issues with cooperation, and more false starts and delays than many would have thought. Even after launching on April 24th, 1990 it was considered to be a big risk and didn’t really get the recognition it deserved until years later. On the bright side it is well respected now, and for good reason since it was named after famed astronomer Edwin Hubble. His legacy lives on proud today thanks to the success of the telescope in orbit.
The Idea Started Long Before NASA
A little known fact about the Hubble telescope was that it had its roots way back in 1946, which is long before NASA was even established. So before the most influential scientific organization was officially formed, the Hubble telescope was already being discussed in theory as a space-based observatory by astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer Jr. His paper was very influential in getting the project off of the ground, which is why it’s sometimes easy to forget the true origins of the Hubble telescope.
What could be considered Hubble ‘babies’ was also a good foundation with the four unmanned satellites that NASA launched between 1966 and 1972. But Spitzer wasn’t happy with just the results of those projects, and kept lobbying for the government to take the project to bigger heights. His tireless efforts helped the program, and in 1977 the U.S. Congress provided the funding that would leave to the creation of the Hubble telescope. So when you think of the idea that led to it being created, always think of Lyman Spitzer Jr.
It has 20 Years’ Worth of Observations
Without talking specifically about the data, enough can’t be said about the power of 20 years of observations. This all takes place with it moving around earth at 17,500 miles an hour. So when it collects data, it does it at incredibly fast speeds compared to stationary telescopes on earth. Because of the great view it has and its raw power, more than 930,000 observations have been made and more than 570,000 images have been snapped of 30,000 celestial objects. That is a huge number that is even more impressive when you consider that it has taken 110,000 trips around the entire planet while making these observations. In its lifetime, it has traveled the distance between Neptune and the Sun.
Over 8,700 Scientific Papers have been Published On Its Data
With over 20 years of observations under its belt, it has compiled more than 45 terabytes of data for scientists to go through. That’s enough data to fill up to 5,800 DVD’s, or more precisely just under ¼ of Netflix’s entire library of streaming media. That’s a lot of data to go through, and it is the reason why there are so many scientific papers on it. At this point it is the most productive scientific instrument ever built by humans, and continues to show its value each and every day. In the record year of 2009, 648 journals articles were published using the Hubble telescopes data.
The Hubble Telescope Is More Powerful Than Any Ground Telescope
With the advanced optics and superior elevated perspective, it can see farther away than any ground based telescope by default. Ever wanted to own a time machine? The Hubble isn’t one, but it has some of the features that we associate with such a device. Since the light from remote objects only shows how the object appeared after the light left it, we have are viewing it in real time, but from such a far distance that it has actually happened years ago. The better explanation is when we view a galaxy that is millions of light years away from earth, we see it as it was those same millions of years ago. Travel of light and how it works is very important when it comes to astronomy.
Another point of power is that it sees things other telescopes can’t see, like distant galaxies that are too small to be seen by earth telescopes. This includes galaxies that haven’t even begun star formation, a big provider of information for the history books. Adding in the fact that the Big Bang was able to be narrowed down through the help of the telescope, and it really does seem to be the most powerful of its kind in the universe.