The History of Hubble Space Telescope.

The History of Hubble Space Telescope

This is about the history of the Hubble Space Telescope. Starting in 1946 with an idea, it’s still orbiting the planet. So if you want to know all about Hubble Space Telescope’s history, then this article is for you. Let’s get started! Hubble Space Telescope’s History Hubble Space Telescope has quietly orbited Earth for just shy of three decades.  Indeed, the scope has been our window into deep space, unlocking some of the universe’s greatest mysteries.  Not to mention, Hubble has delivered some of mankind’s most detailed, break-taking photos of the cosmos.  But, Hubble’s turbulent past and its long road to launch may shock you.  Why Build a Space Telescope? Hubble launched in April 1990. However, desires and concepts for space-based optics date back to World War II.  Yale professor Lyman Spitzer published his paper, Astronomical Advantages of an Extra-Terrestrial Observatory, in 1946. Primarily, Spitzer detailed how Earth’s atmosphere obstructs starlight, which an extra-terrestrial scope could avoid.  Furthermore, Earth’s atmosphere blocks valuable light, like X-rays from stars and galaxies.  Whereas telescopes in orbit would receive this light, and thus, far more useful information about our universe. Later, Spitzer headed the national committee to plan such a large orbiting observatory.  Finally, in 1969, the committee published its full report, urging the approval and construction of an orbiting space telescope.  Overall, the report pleads, in great detail, why a space-based telescope would allow ground-breaking research and development in cosmology. NASA Joins the Party Next, bringing a space telescope to life meant winning NASA’s crucial influence.  Firstly, NASA and contractors conducted deep research into the difficulties and hurdles of constructing such a fantastic tool. Among the most important initial decisions, the project’s timeline.  Simply put, should small phases gradually work up to the grand, full-sized space telescope? Or, should one large project construct the complete space telescope? Meanwhile, NASA’s plans for a Space Shuttle were now approved and in motion.  In particular, the Space Shuttle program vastly widened NASA’s flexibility for lofty and progressive projects.  Not to mention, many credit this new flexibility as the tipping point for Hubble’s approval. The Elephant in the Room … Funding At last, with NASA on board, the project that would ultimately become Hubble Space Telescope had a hopeful and promising future. But, one massive piece was still missing, funding. At first, the all-in price tag for the project rang in at $400 to $500 million.  Which, at the time, was an astronomical amount of budgeting for space endeavors.  In other words, an incredibly tough sell for federal funding. In fact, in 1975, funding was initially denied unanimously by a House Appropriations Committee. Yet, in true competitive spirit, denial only spawned determination. Before long, a full-fledged campaign to build the telescope, pioneered by NASA and influential astronomers, arose. In fact, Spitzer again headed the project, helping lead the charge. Even internationally, what would become the European Space Agency (ESA) lent its hand, providing cost-efficient solar panels.  Ultimately, such global synergies birthed plans for international collaboration on this project and future projects, like the International Space Station.  In the end, international teamwork scientifically benefits all parties. Not to mention, large costs, previously isolated to one country, could now be split, drastically reducing costs! Furthermore, reductions in telescope mirror sizes and international collaboration eventually brought estimated prices to $200 million, half of the original budget.  Finally, in 1977, congress green-lit the budget, and the Large Space Telescope Project was officially born. Construction Begins Construction of Hubble’s delicate mirrors is underway. In 1978, design began with contracts awarded to both Perkin-Elmer Corporation for a mirror and Lockheed Missiles and Space Company for the spacecraft. Originally, a 1983 launch would encounter several long delays. After all, while the mirror was completed in 1981, the final spacecraft assembly would not even begin until 1985. However, 1983 would earn its place in history for naming the telescope after the notable astronomer Edwin P. Hubble.  Famous for his research of stars and galaxies, Hubble was the first to discover the universe’s expansion. At Last, Launch Time Arrives … Twice Finally, with Hubble’s assembly complete, NASA prepared for a 1986 launch.  However, one of the spaceflight’s greatest tragedies struck. Space Shuttle Challenger launched into the Florida skies on a cold January morning during what seemed a routine launch.  Suddenly, only a minute into the flight, Challenger exploded, tragically killing all crew members. Again, Hubble’s launch and future were uncertain.  On account of Challenger’s sad demise, NASA delayed all launches indefinitely. Resuming launches in 1988, NASA was again prepared to launch.  Finally, on the morning of April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope launched aboard Discovery.  Included in the telescope’s initial payload were the following instruments: Wide Field Planetary Camera Goddard spectrograph Faint Object Camera (FOC) Literally, after decades of waiting and lobbying, Hubble Space Telescope was in orbit, ready to amaze. Blurry Images and Worldwide Broken Hearts Only weeks into its mission, Hubble immediately returns blurry, out-of-focus images.  Indeed, the images allowed astronomers to observe and study the cosmos.  However, after record-breaking funding and years of planning, Hubble’s images were truly a point of embarrassment and despair.  Not to mention, NASA’s reputation was in grave danger. In fact, initial images from the telescope looked like this: An aberration caused part of the high-tech scope’s mirror to be too flat, poorly receiving light.  In pure disarray, staff members scrambled to devise a fix for the mirror.  A Triumphant, Ground-Breaking Repair Finally, in time for Hubble’s first scheduled maintenance and servicing mission in 1993, a plan was hatched. Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (COSTAR) would be implemented.  Basically, the instruments would compensate for the mirror’s aberrations, allowing the scope to properly function. In December 1993, a record-setting five consecutive spacewalks were conducted, allowing crew members of the STS-61 mission to service Hubble.  Ultimately, COSTAR and several new instrument replacements allowed visual corrections for Hubble’s mirrors, thus correcting the problems. Immediately, upon STS-61’s arrival back on Earth, the triumphant mission proved to be a genuine success.  At last, Hubble Space Telescope was returning crystal-clear images of the cosmos. Hubble: …

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10 Fascinating Facts About he James Webb Space Telescope.

10 Fascinating Facts About the James Webb Space Telescope

These are 10 fascinating facts about the James Webb Space Telescope. From the size of a tennis court to a gold golf ball. So if you want to learn the top 10 James Webb Space Telescope facts, then you’re in the right place. Let’s get started! 10 James Webb Space Telescope Facts Launched in October 2018, the James Webb Space Telescope took over Hubble as mankind’s next-generation eyes into the universe.  Using state-of-the-art instruments and doubling Hubble’s size, James Webb will unlock some of our universe’s biggest secrets.  Without further ado, here are the top 10 amazing James Webb Space Telescope facts:  #1 The Biggest Space Telescope in History Launching in 1990, Hubble Space Telescope was the largest space telescope in history.  However, James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) took over this record in 2018. At the size of a typical school bus, Hubble will be dwarfed by JWST’s tennis court size. Not to mention, JWST’s 21.3-foot-wide primary mirror will collect tremendously higher amounts of light than Hubble’s 7.9-foot primary mirror. #2 A Golf-Ball-Sized Amount of Gold Coats Jwst’s Mirrors JWST will observe some of the universe’s most distant objects.  As a result, in its more than 13-billion-mile journey, object’s light becomes heavily shifted toward the red side of the electromagnetic spectrum. Therefore, JWST’s primary mirrors are plated in 24-karat gold.  Simply put, gold reflects red light better than nearly any other metal.  Ultimately, this allows JWST’s mirrors to be 98% reflective, compared to the typical 85% reflectiveness of standard mirrors. Fun fact: Gold layers plating the scope’s mirrors are only 1,000 atoms thick. Indeed, only a golf-ball-sized amount of gold was used to coat the entire 21-foot-wide mirror. #3 Unlike Hubble, JWST Will Not Be Serviceable During Its Mission In order to either upgrade or repair Hubble throughout its nearly 20-year stint, several manned missions visited the telescope in space to carry out operations. However, Hubble orbits Earth at a measly 340 miles away. In comparison, JWST will orbit at just under 1 million miles out (940,000).  As a result, no missions are currently planned to perform any service or repair operations on the telescope. Fun fact: JWST will be four times farther from Earth than our Moon! #4 JWST Can Clearly See a Single Penny 24 Miles Away Sharpness of vision, or angular resolution, is everything for space telescopes. And, JWST is no slouch in that department. In fact, the telescope could clearly see a US penny from around 24 miles away.  Put another way, JWST could clearly resolve a football from around 340 miles away. #5 JWST Will Be Able To Detect Water on Exoplanets Today, we discover planets orbiting other stars by monitoring slight dips in the star’s light as the planets pass in front of them. Furthermore, we can read unique signatures in the light, telling us a planet’s chemical composition. Finally, the strongest and most readable signatures occur within the infrared spectrum.  Therefore, JWST’s state-of-the-art infrared instruments will help us locate new planets and accurately identify the presence of important things, like water. #6 JWST Will Spot the First Light Ever Created in the Universe Among its most important goals, JWST will see the light from the universe’s first stars and galaxies.  First of all, let’s think about that… The FIRST LIGHT from the FIRST STARS that EVER existed in our universe!  That is truly amazing.  Ultimately, these are the stars that made it possible for Earth and us to even be here right now. However, the farther away an object is, the faster it’s moving away from us.  Plus, the longer light has to travel, the more it gets stretched toward the infrared side of the spectrum. In astronomy, this is referred to as redshifting. Hence, JWST’s powerful state-of-the-art infrared instruments. Even though previous telescopes have been seen further back in time, JWST will reveal previously invisible objects to humans. #7 JWST Will Be Folded up on Its Rocket and Expand to Its Full Size in Space JWST’s larger size makes the telescope a rather bulky payload to launch into space. Therefore, during launch, JWST will be folded, like origami, allowing it to fit into its compact space. Finally, once in space, the large telescope will unfold, expanding to its full size. #8 One Side of the Telescope Is Hotter Than Death Valley, the Other Side Is Colder Than Antarctica First, the side of JWST that will always face the Sun will constantly sit at a scorching 185º F.  In other words, one side of JWST will always be hotter than Death Valley. However, the other side, containing the mirrors and instruments, will constantly sit at a frigid -388º F.  In other words, this side will always remain twice as cold as Antarctica. #9 JWST’s Science Instruments Will Function at Close To Absolute Zero Simply put, the colder the temperature, the fewer atoms move. Ultimately, at absolute zero, the coldest possible temperature (-459º F), atoms essentially stop moving altogether. Now, JWST observes light in the infrared spectrum. However, JWST itself emits infrared heat, which can interfere with precious data. As a result, the high-tech instruments aboard JWST will operate at nearly absolute zero to decipher data accurately.  In fact, the space telescope’s primary operating temperature is only 50 degrees above absolute zero. #10 JWST Launches Far, Far Away From Home Launching in an Ariane 5 rocket, provided by Europe, JWST will blast off from a European Spaceport near French Guiana in South America.  Plus, this launch location happens to be very close to the Earth’s equator. Simply put, the Earth spins considerably faster toward the equator.  Ultimately, this increased spin will provide an additional, fuel-free boost for the Ariane 5 rocket carrying the telescope. The world’s most reliable launch rocket and a free booster, not bad.