Gleaned from NASA and Hubblesite.org, here are some facts you may not know about the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

image of HST

Hubble high above the messy chaos of Earth’s atmosphere. (Image credit: NASA)

 

1.      The HST’s history is longer than you might have thought, going back to just after World War II. In 1946, the astronomer Lyman Spitzer (1914-97) identified the main advantages that a space-based observatory would have over ground-based telescopes. Spitzer spent much of his career to pushing for the building of a space telescope.

2.      Originally the HST was to have been bigger. NASA began seriously planning it in the mid-1970s. It was originally proposed to have a mirror diameter of 3m, but this was reduced to 2.4 m to save money.

3.      The HST is still bigger than you might think. It weighs 11 tonnes and is 15.9 m long. That’s nearly as long as a couple of Routemaster doubledecker buses (each 8.4m long).

4.      The HST doesn’t use as much power as you think. It uses about 2800 watts, while a typical kitchen kettle is rated at 2200 watts. Hubble gets its power from a couple of solar panels (each 2.6 x 7.1 m).

5.      Hubble is pretty fast for a telescope, speeding around the world at 28 000 km/h. This is twelve times as fast as the cruising speed of the Concorde supersonic airliner (2270 km/h).

6.      The HST can observe the furthest away galaxies ever seen but there are a couple of nearby objects it cannot look at. These are the Sun (so bright it would damage its sensors) and the planet Mercury, which is too close to the Sun.

7.      Hubble is essentially a giant camera but it doesn’t use film. Its instruments capture the light from the Universe with electronic detectors (CCD’s) so it is basically a giant digital camera.

8.      Hubble’s images of the wonders of the cosmos are recorded in shades of black and white, not colour. The final colour images we all love are actually combinations of two or more black-and-white exposures made through coloured filters. During image processing the colours matching the filters are added to the picture.

9.     The HST has achieved all the objectives it was designed for. Probably its greatest achievement was measuring the age of the Universe to be about 13.8 billion years. This figure was more accurate than any previous measurement.

10. The Hubble telescope is in the final phase of its life. Sometime after 2014 failure of its vital systems will render it useless. Unless some kind of rescue is made, which is pretty unlikely, it will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up sometime between 2019 and 2030. Goodbye Hubble, we’ll miss you. But don’t be sad, it will be replaced by the even larger James Webb Space Telescope.

 

Admin note: This article was first published in 2011. The HST is still in operation today and is helping astronomers the world over make fascinating discoveries. There are plans to have it running right through to 2020, with the hopes that it will be replaced by the James Webb Space Telescope.


50 Comments

Sourabh Gijare · July 9, 2018 at 10:39

it was really intresting…….thanks!

A student · October 17, 2017 at 19:52

these are they usefull, thanks. might want to update the fact about HST breaking in 2014 tho, luckily Hubble escaped that possibility!

    admin · October 18, 2017 at 11:22

    Thank you for your comment. Yes this is one of our older articles, I will put an admin note at the bottom! Thanks for the feedback!

(redacted) · September 12, 2017 at 19:55

*COMMENT REMOVED AT REQUEST OF OWNER*

    admin · September 13, 2017 at 09:06

    Can I ask why you can’t have this comment? We did reply to the person in question and received no response. They have had their chance to reply and have chosen not to.

      (redacted) · September 15, 2017 at 20:27

      *COMMENT REMOVED AT REQUEST OF OWNER*

        kanscnac · October 3, 2017 at 15:47

        *COMMENT ERASED BY ADMIN*

          admin · October 17, 2017 at 13:49

          Bad language, even abbreviated and altered bad language, is not tolerated on this blog. Don’t make us warn you again.

      Billy · January 31, 2019 at 13:07

      Thank you for banning inappropriate language. Thank you

        admin · January 31, 2019 at 15:14

        You’re welcome! And thanks for giving us the opportunity to ban the inappropriate language you used in your comment as well. It was a great way to exercise our skills in deleting bad language.

    Atlas · June 3, 2019 at 18:26

    How do I remove this comment. Im trying to remove all my data from this site.

      Armagh Observatory and Planetarium · June 4, 2019 at 09:33

      Hi Atlas, I cannot see any comment posted under “Atlas” before to delete.

        Atlas · October 19, 2019 at 17:50

        My mistake, I used the wrong name, they’re the comments under the name of Andrew Knott and Dylan

          Courtney Allison · October 24, 2019 at 13:49

          Hi Atlas,

          You should find all relevant comments removed.

Kevin Chen · April 11, 2017 at 14:27

I really like this website.

Kevin Chen · April 11, 2017 at 14:17

This is really helpful.

mr.dragon · February 2, 2017 at 00:13

thanks for the info

Mamirica · May 28, 2016 at 15:03

I wanted info that was like in general of basically all space telescopes, try to at least put something in general…

Beewee Lantern · April 14, 2016 at 21:28

R.I.P. Hubble

    admin · April 15, 2016 at 09:36

    Dear Beewee, thank you for your comment but thankfully as of now the Hubble Space Telescope is still functioning.

    Jamie Hills · October 17, 2017 at 19:45

    HUBBLE STILL WORKS AND IS SRILL BEING USED, HUBBLE WAS REPAIRED IDIOT

      admin · October 18, 2017 at 15:15

      Hi Jamie, thanks for the comment. I have added a little admin note to the bottom of this article. This particular article was written in 2011, when things looked a lot different. Yes we know that HST is still in use and the plan is to keep it running until 2020.

Annabel · March 14, 2016 at 02:01

People are so dumb, these are great facts! They aren’t supposed to just be the basic facts they are facts you most likely did not know! so thank you great for my project!!!!!!

    Beewee Lantern · April 14, 2016 at 21:30

    I am using these for a project too

Starre · September 21, 2015 at 15:13

I did not find this very useful. We need like who made the first Hubble Telescope and more useful facts

    admin · September 22, 2015 at 09:55

    Dear Starre, I’m sorry you did not find this article useful. The first (and only) Hubble Space Telescope was built for NASA by the companies Perkin-Elmer and Lockheed. I hope this helps you.

star · May 28, 2015 at 16:59

Wow! I Liked these facts sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much

Rainbow dash · April 1, 2015 at 16:49

nice facts

Alfie · March 4, 2015 at 19:54

That is a very good information. I have learnt a lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

cassi · June 24, 2014 at 10:49

wow this had some pretty cool info it helped me with my school asignment

Rhys Cunningham · May 14, 2014 at 15:21

cheers helped me with my hmw ALOT!

Ellen · March 30, 2014 at 19:42

Thankyou so much! This information was very VERY helpful!

madison · March 3, 2014 at 18:19

thanks this info has helped me with my project 🙂

isabella wlson · January 14, 2014 at 01:40

this is very very helpful i will come back on :p

lopez · September 24, 2013 at 00:27

this helped me alot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    kyla · December 15, 2016 at 16:19

    nothing really helped me

    kyla · December 15, 2016 at 16:24

    I didn’t really get any of this you need more information to me you don’t need to but it is just my opinion to get more information

Unicorn · September 20, 2013 at 18:52

Great fact really helped me thanx

Unicorn · September 20, 2013 at 18:51

Great fact really helped me out thanx

Cheese · May 21, 2013 at 18:51

Thank you.
Very very helpful and amazing facts.

boogle · September 15, 2011 at 17:06

Thank you for the information it was very helpful. 🙂

    admin · June 19, 2014 at 09:13

    Please let us know what you believe to be untrue in this article.

      Jhon · November 16, 2014 at 18:37

      you wrote tons tonnes xD or am I wrong

        Jhon · November 16, 2014 at 18:38

        But yes they are very good facts thanks needed them for a project these helped alot

        Helper · April 26, 2016 at 01:22

        tons and tonnes are a bit different.
        1 ton = 2000 pounds (US)
        1 tonne or 1 metric ton = 2204.62 pounds (US)

      kyla · December 15, 2016 at 16:28

      You should never say a website is stupid. Besides if you had a website you wouldn’t want people calling your website stupid . They might just need a little more information.

        admin · December 16, 2016 at 09:23

        Dear Kyla, thank you for your comment. However I am sure that I did not say this.

    Shark · October 15, 2014 at 17:35

    Very good facts

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