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Hubble Space Telescope Essay, Research Paper

The Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the worlds most powerful earth-orbiting reflecting telescopes. With its capability of producing images from any wavelength, the HST is the eyes of the universe for scientists on earth.

The HST has a capability of operating at any wavelength from a near infrared level to a visible range to an ultraviolet level. Because of this capability, scientists can view toward the outmost reach of the universe. The HST has a 2.4 meter objective mirror and is able to observe different types of wavelengths. Once it locates an image from any wavelength, the HST records the images it receives and then sends the images back to earth by means of radio waves in digital form.

The construction of the HST began in 1981 with the assembly of its’ precision ground mirror. By the end of 1985, the entire spacecraft was complete with the scientific instruments, optical components, and remaining hardware intact and prepared for launch. Although scheduled for launch in 1986, the project was later postponed due to the space shuttle Challenger disaster. During this period, HST was subjected to intense tests and observation in order to prepare its duty in space. The HST was finally launched aboard the STS-31 mission of the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990.

Shortly after its launch in 1990, an error was found in the HST main mirror, which caused the telescope to operate improperly. The main mirror was shaped too flat toward the edge of the lens itself. This caused the images to appear as a blur upon use of the telescope. The mirror could not be fixed. So to correct the problem, scientists developed a corrective lens, similar to a contact lens, to compensate for the error. The lens was finally installed in 1993 and compensated exactly for the improper curvature in the primary mirror.

In December 1999, another problem arose with the much needed replacement of gyroscopes and electronics to push the HST to its full capabilities. After its replacement, the HST was back producing stunning images of the universe.

Since the HST launch in 1990, the telescope has been carefully maintained and has been expanding its potential by installations of a near infrared camera, imaging spectroscope, and an advanced camera which enhance the capability of the current objectives of the HST.

From its beginning, the HST has produced vital information for not only scientists, but for others as well. It has provided spectacular images of the universe as well as given people a better understanding of the universe. Recently, the HST has been studying NGC 2392, better known as the “Eskimo Nebula.” This nebula, which is 5000 light years away, is named because of how it depicts the image of a face in a furry parka as seen through ground-based telescopes. However, through the view of the HST, the furry image was discovered to be giant comets pointing away from the central star. Another prime example of the HST power is the study of the cluster of galaxies Abell 2218. Abell 2218 acts like a giant zoom lens in space. The gravitational field of the cluster of galaxies acts like a magnifying glass and provides scientists with a spectacular view of deep parts of the universe.

With the hubble space telescope in earths orbit, more discoveries are found every day. With its unsurpassed power and its capabilities the HST will continue to provide images and new understandings to what lies in the universe.


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