It’s easy to understate the importance of the Hubble Space Telescope. However, make no mistake: this groundbreaking telescope has played an integral role in space discovery for the past 30 years. It has revolutionized how humanity understands the cosmos, with its findings wowing NASA scientists and astronomy enthusiasts alike.
To gain a greater understanding of this revolutionary creation and using research compiled by Betway Casino, here are seven incredible facts all about the Hubble Space Telescope.
1. The Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990
On April 24, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was successfully launched while on-board the Space Shuttle Discovery. While the mission’s main objective (STS-31) was the deployment of Hubble in low Earth orbit, experiments were also conducted on-board and the mission was captured via IMAX cameras, with the footage being used for the documentary Destiny in Space.
The date of the launch isn’t a spectacular fact on its own. Yet proposals for the Hubble began in the 1970s when NASA successfully funded their ambitious plan. The first planned launch was in 1983, but budget issues and technical delays halted the project. Their next scheduled launch date in 1986 was then scrapped following the tragic Challenger disaster in the same year.
After significant delays, Hubble finally made its journey in 1990. Even though it wasn’t the first space telescope, it is by far the most important of its kind to date.
2. It can see up to 15 billion light years away
It’s impossible to truly comprehend the magnitude of this figure. To try and put it into some sort of context, a single light year is equivalent to 5.8 trillion miles. That’s right, trillion miles. As a comparison, someone would have to travel around the world 236.1 million times to match 5.8 trillion miles.
Now remember, that’s just one light year. The Hubble’s range extends to 10-15 billion light years away. If you were to times 5.8 trillion with 15 billion, you’d come up with a figure that’d cause a nervous breakdown for accountants.
3. It’s positioned 354 miles above Earth
Despite the incredible range of the telescope, the Hubble is relatively close to home. It orbits Earth while being situated 354 miles above it. To do another comparison, the six-hour car journey between California and Las Vegas is a greater distance.
Of course, 354 miles vertically is still a considerable figure. A commercial aircraft, for instance, will typically fly at a height of 5.9 to 7.2 miles.
4. It is the size of a large tractor
With its ability to see 15 billion light years away, it’s not unfeasible for someone to believe the Hubble Space Telescope is the size of, say, the Empire State Building. Note: watching the launch of a telescope that size would be some sight to see. However, the saying, ‘big things come in small packages’ certainly applies to the Hubble.
The measurements of the telescope are as followed: 13.2m long, 4.2m wide. That’s approximately the size of a large tractor.
5. It cost $4.7 billion to produce
Major technological advances don’t come cheap, and the Hubble Space Telescope was no exception to that rule. At the time it was launched and accounting for inflation, NASA spent around $4.7 billion on the project. Delays and unforeseen construction issues all saw the budget skyrocket – no pun intended – far beyond initial projections.
When factoring in subsequent servicing costs over the decades, it is suggested the cumulative spend on the Hubble surpasses $10 billion.
6. It’s responsible for understanding the size of the universe
Some quarters will argue the funding NASA received could have been better spent elsewhere. While this article won’t open up that particular can of worms, there’s no denying the impact of the Hubble Space Telescope and how it has helped the world gain a greater understanding of the universe.
It has pinned down the universe’s age to being about 13.8 billion years. It has taken some of the most stunning images of space ever seen. It has also assisted in establishing the observable universe’s limits, which is 94 billion light years.
7. It will be replaced by the Webb Space Telescope
After over 30 years of service, the Hubble Space Telescope is soon to complete its last orbit and enjoy a well-deserved retirement. The reason for this is due to the development of its successor, the Webb Space Telescope.
With a much greater field of view, the Webb will be able to capture images and gather data that goes beyond the Hubble’s capabilities. Costing approximately $10 billion to produce, the Webb, when it’s finally launched before the end of 2021, will also be placed in a significantly different location than the Hubble. It will be 932,000 miles from Earth as it orbits the Sun.