Saturday, November 24, 2012

About Hubble Space Telescope - Image and History

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a space based telescope that was carried into orbit by a Space Shuttle in 1990 and remains in operation. A 2.4-meter (7.9 ft) aperture telescope in low Earth orbit, Hubble's four main instruments observe in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared. The telescope is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble.

Hubble's orbit outside the distortion of Earth's atmosphere allows it to take extremely sharp images with almost no background light. Hubble's Deep Field have been some of the most detailed visible-light images ever, allowing a deep view into space and time. Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as accurately determining the rate of expansion of the universe.

The HST was built by the United States space agency NASA, with contributions from the European Space Agency, and is operated by the Space Telescope Science Institute. The HST is one of NASA's Great Observatories, along with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Space telescopes were proposed as early as 1923. Hubble was funded in the 1970s, with a proposed launch in 1983, but the project was beset by technical delays, budget problems, and the Challenger disaster. When finally launched in 1990, scientists found that the main mirror had been ground incorrectly, compromising the telescope's capabilities. The telescope was restored to its intended quality by a servicing mission in 1993.

Hubble is the only telescope designed to be serviced in space by astronauts. Between 1993 and 2002, four missions repaired, upgraded, and replaced systems on the telescope; a fifth mission was canceled on safety grounds following the Columbia disaster. However, after spirited public discussion, NASA administrator Mike Griffin approved one final servicing mission, completed in 2009 by Space Shuttle Atlantis. The telescope is now expected to function until at least 2013. Its scientific successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is to be launched in 2018 or possibly later.

Readers / Viewers,
This article is extremely large, I have tried to give a little history from the beginning of the Hubble Mission, including some repairing images on the space.
Credit goes to for all descriptions and images: wikipedia and hubblesite. You are requested to visit the web portals to know more details about the Telescope.

Hubble’s first servicing mission replaced and repaired various instruments, but its most important task was installing technology that corrected the tiny flaw in Hubble’s main mirror that distorted the telescope’s view. Hubble was specially designed to be repaired and upgraded by astronauts while in orbit.

As Hubble’s third repair mission unwinds, ground controllers send commands and instructions to the telescope while monitoring data from the observatory to check that it continues to function correctly. This picture, taken in 1999, shows command and control operations at the Space Telescope Operations Center at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.

Carriers, used to transport Hubble instruments, wait in the largest clean room in the world, Goddard Space Flight Center’s 1.3-million-cubic-foot (0.036 million cubic meters) High Bay Clean Room. Clean rooms are pristine areas kept as free as possible of contaminants that could interfere with delicate technology. The platform used to anchor Hubble to the space shuttle during repair missions is kept here. Astronauts also train in the room for servicing missions.

Engineers in a clean room at Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colo., work on one of Hubble’s instruments, the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS), in 1996. The instrument, installed in Hubble in 1997, breaks light into colors, giving scientists an important analytic tool for studying the cosmos. STIS has been used to study such objects as black holes, new stars, and massive planets forming outside our solar system.

Hubble is lifted into the upright position in Lockheed Martin's acoustic vibration chamber in preparation for its 1990 launch aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. The telescope was designed and built in the 1970s and 1980s, but its launch was delayed by the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. A close look at this image reveals a portion of the 225 feet (68.6 m) of handrails installed around the outside for astronauts to grip during repair mission spacewalks.

Astronaut Kathy Thornton jettisons a damaged solar array panel into space during Hubble’s first servicing mission in 1993. When the solar panels were replaced, astronauts found a bend in the casing of this panel. The panel couldn't be returned safely to Earth, and was released into space. Eventually the panel will descend into Earth’s atmosphere, where the friction created by the speed of its fall will burn it up, turning it into a shooting star. Hubble’s solar panels generate power for the telescope by converting sunlight into electricity. The arrays power the telescope and charge its batteries while Hubble is in sunlight. When Hubble moves into the dark portion of its orbit, the batteries provide power.

Astronauts remove the Wide Field and Planetary Camera to replace it with its more powerful successor, Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, during Hubble’s first servicing mission in 1993. The camera, shaped something like a grand piano, weighs 610 pounds (277 kg) on Earth, but nothing in space. It can detect stars a billion times fainter than the ones we can see with our eyes. Most of Hubble’s most popular pictures have been taken with this second camera.

Astronaut F. Story Musgrave, anchored on the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s robotic arm, prepares to be elevated to the top of the Hubble Space Telescope during Hubble’s first servicing mission in 1993. Astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman, inside the shuttle payload bay, assists Musgrave.

Astronaut Steve Smith works on Hubble during the second servicing mission in 1997 with a ratchet. NASA specially designed the power tool to withstand the harsh environment of space, making it an essential item during three different Hubble missions. Hubble was specifically built to be serviced in orbit with replaceable parts and instruments. Astronauts performed four days of spacewalks during the second servicing mission to replace instruments and repair the telescope.

Astronauts Joseph Tanner – on the robotic arm – and Gregory Harbaugh replace the Hubble Space Telescope’s Fine Guidance Sensors (FGS) in 1997. The FGS are used to locate and lock onto a target star while science instruments make observations. They can also perform measurements on the positions and motions of stars. Each sensor is more than five feet (1.5 m) wide and three feet (0.9 m) long, and weighs 485 pounds (219 kg). The telescope’s pointing accuracy and stability depend heavily on the Fine Guidance Sensors.

The Hubble Space Telescope rests in the Space Shuttle Discovery’s cargo bay during the third repair mission in December 1999. Hubble must attach to the shuttle for astronauts to perform repairs. Discovery is the shuttle that originally carried Hubble into orbit in 1990. The telescope stretches five stories tall, and the tubular part of its body is 14 feet (4.2 m) across. Its school bus-size bulk completely filled Discovery’s cargo bay during the trip from Earth to space.

The Space Shuttle Discovery takes off on a mission to upgrade and repair Hubble in 1999. Once it gets close enough to Hubble, the shuttle uses its robotic arm to tow the telescope into its cargo bay for astronauts to work on. Astronauts routinely visit Hubble to perform maintenance work and install new instruments, thanks to the telescope’s unique construction with replaceable parts.

The Hubble Space Telescope hovers at the boundary of Earth and space in this picture, taken after Hubble’s second servicing mission in 1997. Hubble drifts 353 miles (569 km) above the Earth’s surface, where it can avoid the atmosphere and clearly see objects in space.

The Hubble Space Telescope drifts through space in this picture, taken by Space Shuttle Discovery during Hubble’s second servicing mission in 1997. The 10-foot aperture door, open to admit light, closes to block out space debris. The observatory’s solar panels and foil-like thermal blankets are clearly visible. The solar panels provide power, while the thermal blankets protect Hubble from the extreme temperatures of space.

The revamped Hubble Space Telescope, fresh from its fourth visit by astronauts, sports new solar arrays on its outside, and new instruments inside. The new solar arrays, which collect sunlight to power the telescope, are smaller than the previous ones, but more powerful. This image was taken shortly after Hubble separated from the Columbia space shuttle in March 2002, making it the most up-to-date picture of the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Hubble Space Telescope floats against the background of Earth after a week of repair and upgrade by Space Shuttle Columbia astronauts in 2002. Hubble’s fourth servicing mission gave the telescope its first new instrument installed since the 1997 repair mission – the Advanced Camera for Surveys. It doubled Hubble’s field of view and records information much faster than Hubble’s Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis' robotic arm lifts the Hubble Space Telescope from the cargo bay on May 19, 2009, moments away from releasing the observatory to resume its travels around Earth. The release concluded Servicing Mission 4, the fifth astronaut visit to the telescope. Astronauts installed two new instruments, fixed two others, and performed numerous other repairs and upgrades.

While standing on the end of Atlantis' robotic arm, Astronaut Michael Good uses a power tool to perform work on the Hubble Space Telescope on May 15, 2009. Servicing Mission 4 was one of the most active and intense of the Hubble missions.

Astronaut Andrew Feustel, positioned on a foot restraint on the end of Atlantis' robotic arm, participates in Servicing Mission 4's third spacewalk on May 16, 2009. Over the six-hour, 36-minute spacewalk, Feustel and Astronaut John Grunsfeld removed the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement, installed the new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, and worked to repair the Advanced Camera for Surveys.

Astronaut Andrew Feustel, perched on the end of the robotic arm, helps to install the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) during a May 14, 2009, spacewalk to perform work on the Hubble Space Telescope. Wide Field Camera 3 is one of two new instruments installed during Servicing Mission 4, the fifth astronaut visit to Hubble.

Hubble drifts over Earth after its release on May 19, 2009 by the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. The crew had performed all planned tasks over the course of five spacewalks, making the Servicing Mission 4, the fifth astronaut visit to the Hubble Space Telescope, an unqualified success.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis moves away from Hubble after the telescope’s release on May 19, 2009 concluded Servicing Mission 4. The Soft Capture Mechanism, a ring that a future robotic mission can grapple in order to de-orbit the telescope, is visible in the center.

The Hubble Space Telescope in a picture snapped by a Servicing Mission 4 crew members just after the Space Shuttle Atlantis captured Hubble with its robotic arm on May 13, 2009, beginning the mission to upgrade and repair the telescope.

Thanks a lot.

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