Monday, 16 June 2014

Our Window to the Soul of the Universe, The Hubble Space Telescope

Courtesy of NASA.

Hubble's Name:

NASA named the world's first space-based optical telescope after American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble (1889—1953). Dr. Hubble confirmed an "expanding" universe, which provided the foundation for the Big Bang theory.


Launch: April 24, 1990 from space shuttle Discovery (STS-31)

Deployment: April 25, 1990

Mission Duration: Up to 20 years

Servicing Mission 1: December 1993

Servicing Mission 2: February 1997

Servicing Mission 3A: December 1999

Servicing Mission 3B: February 2002

Servicing Mission 4: May 2009


Length: 43.5 ft (13.2 m)

Weight: 24,500 lb (11,110 kg)

Maximum Diameter: 14 ft (4.2 m)

Cost at Launch:

$1.5 billion

Spaceflight Statistics:

Orbit: At an altitude of 307 nautical miles (569 km, or 353 miles), inclined 28.5 degrees to the equator (low-Earth orbit)

Time to Complete One Orbit: 97 minutes

Speed: 17,500 mph (28,000 kph)

Optical Capabilities:

Hubble Can't Observe: The Sun or Mercury, which is too close to the Sun

Sensitivity to Light: Ultraviolet through infrared (115—2500 nanometers)

First Image: May 20, 1990: Star Cluster NGC 3532

Data Statistics:

Hubble transmits about 120 gigabytes of science data every week. That's equal to about 3,600 feet (1,097 meters) of books on a shelf. The rapidly growing collection of pictures and data is stored on magneto-optical disks.

Power Needs:

Energy Source: The Sun

Mechanism: Two 25-foot solar panels

Power usage: 2,800 watts

Pointing Accuracy:

In order to take images of distant, faint objects, Hubble must be extremely steady and accurate. The telescope is able to lock onto a target without deviating more than 7/1000th of an arcsecond, or about the width of a human hair seen at a distance of 1 mile.

Hubble's Mirrors:

Primary Mirror Diameter: 94.5 in (2.4 m)

Primary Mirror Weight: 1,825 lb (828 kg)

Secondary Mirror Diameter: 12 in (0.3 m)

Secondary Mirror Weight: 27.4 lb (12.3 kg)

Power Storage:

Batteries: 6 nickel-hydrogen (NiH)

Storage Capacity: equal to 20 car batteries

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