Hubble Space Telescope

Stephan’s Quintet, interacting galaxies. Courtesy Hubble.

When life on earth gets impossibly complicated, I often look to the skies for solace. On clear nights, I have a galaxy of stars above to embrace me. At other times, it’s Hubble’s photographs.

 

The Hubble Space Telescope (“Hubble”)  is situated above Earth’s atmosphere–340 miles (540 km) up. At this altitude, it is able to avoid the atmospheric distortion that terrestrial-bound telescopes and observatories encounter, resulting in pristine images.

 

Pillars of Creation, interstellar gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula. Courtesy Hubble.

 

The information gathered from Hubble’s 30 years of images have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics.

 

With a very large mirror (see photo at end) and four main instruments, Hubble can observe in ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

 

“If your eye were as sensitive as Hubble’s, you could look from New York City and see the glow of a pair of fireflies in Tokyo.”

(Hubble’s Universe, Greatest Discoveries and Latest Images [2014] by Terence Dickinson.)

 

Hubble Space Telescope in space being serviced by Astronauts Smith and Grunsfeld (center), Dec. 1999. Courtesy NASA.

 

The only telescope designed to be maintained in space by astronauts, Hubble was launched into space in 1990. Since then it has been serviced, repaired and upgraded by NASA space shuttle missions in 1993, 1997, 1999, 2002, and 2009.

NASA:  Hubble Servicing Missions

 

Inside the Orion Nebula. Courtesy Hubble.

 

Due to these upgrades, Hubble is equipped with cutting-edge mirrors, computers and navigational equipment. It remains in space to this day, fully functioning.

 

Multi-layered insulation on the outside protects it from the harsh environment of space. Large solar panels turn the sun’s light into usable energy.

 

The Hubble Space Telescope in orbit

Hubble Space Telescope in orbit. Courtesy Wikipedia.

 

Over the years, space shuttle missions to Hubble have been cancelled and re-scheduled due to funding and safety issues.

 

The fifth and final upgrade mission was serviced by the space shuttle Atlantis crew in 2009. Upgrades and servicing are over now, but Hubble could last until 2030-2040.

 

This is the Atlantis shuttle craft, below, now displayed in Kennedy Space Center.

 

Atlantis Space Shuttle on display at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida

 

Engineering support for Hubble is provided by NASA and personnel at Goddard Flight Center in Maryland. Four teams of flight controllers monitor Hubble 24 hours a day.

 

Hubble’s successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is currently being developed by NASA with significant contributions from European Space Agency and Canadian Space Agency.

 

NASA is generous with sharing data and Hubble images, and also provides numerous websites for anyone to visit, here are a few:

Online brochure:  Highlights of Hubble’s Explorations of the Universe.

NASA Website:  Hubble Space Telescope

This NASA link invites you to enter your birthday to see the photo Hubble took on your birthday. What Did Hubble See on Your Birthday.

Wikipedia Hubble Space Telescope

 

Crab Nebula. Courtesy Hubble.

 

Horsehead Nebula. Courtesy Hubble.

 

Carina Nebula. Courtesy Hubble.

 

 

Jupiter. Courtesy Hubble.

 

The triumphs and discoveries gleaned from Hubble are a testament to the profound abilities of humans from all over the world.

 

While we work on sorting through problems on our planet, we have the skies and space to dazzle our imagination, and open the universe to future generations.

 

Written by Jet Eliot.

Hubble photos courtesy NASA.

Atlantis Space Shuttle photo by Athena Alexander.

Hubble’s primary mirror measuring 7.9 feet (2.4 m), March 1979. Courtesy Wikipedia

Whirlpool Galaxy. Courtesy Hubble.

 

67 thoughts on “Hubble Space Telescope

  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful post. I learned a great deal and oh my goodness the images are just fabulous. Also thank you for reminding us all that looking up, and indeed down reveals worlds that we tend to take for granted and even ignore.

    Hope your writing is gong well and that you are physically well. Janet X

  2. Fantastic post, Jet. The “Pillars of Creation, interstellar gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula.” look to me like the Rime that created the primordial cow who nourished the Rime-Giant Ymir. In the Saga “GYLFAGINNING: HERE BEGINS THE BEGUILING OF GYLFI”. “…the cow called Audumla; four streams of milk ran from her udders, and she nourished Ymir.”

    She was also nourished by the Rime:

    “She licked the ice-blocks, which were salty; and the first day that she licked the blocks, there came forth from the blocks in the evening a man’s hair; the second day, a man’s head; the third day the whole man was there. He is named Búri: he was fair of feature, great and mighty. He begat a son called Borr, who wedded the woman named Bestla, daughter of Bölthorn the giant; and they had three sons: one was Odin, the second Vili, the third Vé. And this is my belief, that he, Odin, with his brothers, must be ruler of heaven and earth; we hold that he must be so called; so is that man called whom we know to be mightiest and most worthy of honor, and ye do well to let him be so called.”

    And from all that the world and the universe were made from various parts of Ymir after Odin and his brothers killed Ymir. It’s a fascinating tale and creation story.

    • Thanks so much, Timothy, for sharing a bit of Gylfaginning. I’m not familiar with Norse mythology or this particular work of art, but it does sound fascinating, and I can imagine the uniqueness of the Hubble photos to easily conjure up thoughts of the creation of the universe. Many thanks for your visit and sharing this info.

    • Aren’t these Hubble images so amazing, Jan? I like the Crab Nebula too. I’ve read it is the most photogenic of all the known supernova remnants. The core of it emits radio pulses at 30 times per second! Wish I had that kind of energy. Glad you enjoyed today’s space post, thank you, as always, for your visit.

    • I’m delighted you enjoyed the Hubble post today, Belinda. As a photographer, I am sure you can appreciate the brilliance of that camera. Many thanks and well wishes.

  3. Thank you for this post, Jet. Love the closing line. These are magnificent photos from Hubble. There is no better time to look up the skies and imagine…

    • I agree, Amy, magnificent photos from Hubble — I’m glad they make them available and I could share them. Thanks for your warm words and visit today, always a joy.

  4. So interesting! It must have been difficult to choose a limited number of photos. I loved the birthday image – mine was of the Andromeda Galaxy with it’s 100 million stars! Not a bad birthday gift! Thanks, as always, Jet.

    • Oh yes, Nan, it was difficult to choose just a few of the photos, because there so many and they’re all so interesting and different. The colors and shapes are extraordinary. Always a joy to share the marvels of the galaxies with you, thanks so much for visiting today. I’m smiling at the thought of you finding your birthday image. 🙂

  5. Thanks for taking us away from our beleaguered planet for a little while, Jet! It amazes me what humankind has invented so that we can satisfy our curiosity about the vast universe. That gives me hope that we will use our resourcefulness somehow to tackle the colossal problem we are having now.

    My birthday image was the Whirlpool Galaxy.

    • Oh how I love that you found your birthday Hubble image, Barbara. That Whirlpool Galaxy is a beauty. I so enjoyed your comment, my friend, thanks so much for your lovely words.

  6. At first I couldn’t think of anything intelligent to say because all that came out of my mouth was “Wow!” over and over. As I pondered your first sentence (When life on earth gets impossibly complicated, I often look to the skies for solace), I thought, nowadays there would be a lot of people looking skyward almost constantly. Great post, as usual, Jet, and wonderful images.

    • I loved hearing the evolution of your thoughts, Anneli, as you read my post today. I think that’s the word, “Wow,” that comes up most often for many of us while looking at those Hubble images. Appreciated hearing your feedback on the first sentence. As a writer, you can probably imagine how many times I wrote and re-wrote that first sentence — I’m so glad it resonated. Many thanks for your fine visit and comment today, Anneli.

  7. It’s hard for me to believe that we have built this telescope, launched it into space, repaired it and receive such wonderful images. Pretty amazing — thanks for sharing:)

    • Yes, it is a monumental achievement, I agree, Bill. All those astronauts who have walked out into space, repairing this telescope, bringing tools from earth. All the engineers who have played a part in designing it. Amazing. Glad you enjoyed the post, thanks so much for your visit.

  8. What a fantastic invention! How big is the Universe? Many of the things that we see at great distances are already history., meaning, they do not exist but we can still see them, that’s how far they are. it only the image of what it was. Great post my friend. Thank you. 🙂

    • Yes, it is absolutely mind boggling to think about how big and how old our universe is, and all the information there is yet to acquire, and so very far away it all is. Glad you enjoyed the Hubble post today, my friend. Always a joy to have you stop by.

    • It was great fun to have the ability to download the NASA images, Mike, and I’m glad you enjoyed them. I find them so peaceful. Thank you for your visit, always appreciated.

  9. Several of the images you shared are quite familiar, thanks in part to the Houston Symphony. A few years ago, it presented The Cosmos, a stunning combination of images from the Hubble telescope and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World. Even the trailer is stunning. Thanks for reminding me of it.

    • I love knowing that the Houston Symphony integrated these glorious Hubble images with Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9. Thanks for the excellent link and info. I visited the Johnson Space Center in Houston a few years ago, and was deeply impressed with all the innovations and contributions they have made for space over the years. Really enjoyed hearing from you, as always, Linda. Thank you.

  10. Thank you Jet, for enlightening me with yet another thing that is new to me. The ‘Inside the Orion Nebula’ image is sooo amazing and beautiful! I can look at that over and over again. It looks like a beautiful flower, the colours are exquisite too!

    • It’s a great honor to share the marvels of Hubble’s findings with you, Bertie. It’s been up there taking photographs every day for 30 years — its repertoire is astounding. Thank you, Bertie, for your visit and warm words.

    • It has indeed been a fantastic project with spectacular results. There was a pretty big mistake at the beginning of the project, but they figured out how to rectify the error, which is a marvelous message for all of us. Really wonderful to hear from you, Thom, thanks so much.

  11. Hi Jet, Thank you for taking me away to space. I found your post relaxing. These fantastic images of the galaxies and nebulas are mesmerizingly beautiful. I hope you and Athena are managing well. Stay safe and healthy. 💙

    • Social media and escapes to space via Hubble are all kosher at this peculiar time, so I am delighted I could help you to relax with that, Jane. As an excellent photographer, you no doubt take appreciation for what goes into these incredible photos. Athena and I are well, hangin’ in there. Many thanks for your lovely visit, Jane.

  12. What an awesome post, Jet!! I so miss the starlit skies at night…way to much light pollution here in LA to see very much! Had awesome star lit skies in Arizona and also in San Diego….miss it!! The goal is to quiet the mind and find peace. Prayerful meditation for me in the mornings with the birds and squirrels and of course that wonderful first morning coffee!! Be well….again, love this post and the wonders the Hubble has shown us!! Stay well!!

    • Always a pleasure to hear from you, Kirt. Thanks so much for this lovely comment. I liked hearing about the night skies, and the how they appear to you from LA, AZ and SD. In the post I used a quote from a book called Hubble’s Universe. It’s an excellent book filled with photos of Hubble’s, might help out with those star-lit nights you’re missing. It’s a coffeetable book with quality photos and really good writing and explanations as well. Cheers, my friend, keep up the health and meditating.

  13. OH. MY! WOW! Incredible, Jet! You have no idea how long I’ve been here staring and staring in wonder. The feelings these views evoked in me have no words to go with them. Amazed! Over-the-top in awe! Unbelievable what are in our skies. The beauty transcends anything I can compare these pictures to. Just wow!! Bless you for taking me away to amazement land!

  14. It’s completely mind boggling, isn’t it? I can never really get my head around it. You look around at our world… I think my head hurts! Or maybe it’s just the wine. Stay safe, darlin! Incredible times.

  15. Ooooh, what fun this was! Favorites were Whirlpool Galaxy and the Crab Nebula. I never know what to expect when visiting your blog! Always fun and informative. Thank you ever so much for sharing these.

    • Always a pleasure to share the beauties of the earth and the galaxies with you, Gunta. I just love the Hubble photos, and can see you enjoyed them too. If you start surfing around in NASA’s Hubble websites, it’s hard to stop. Thanks so much, my friend.

  16. Fascinating. I wasn’t aware the Hubble was to be replaced by the James Webb. The photos it has taken over the years are truly amazing. It’s unfortunate that many of us live in the city and light pollution prevents us from seeing the stars clearly. Years ago I was camping in the outback of Central Australia, and to see all the stars so clearly was truly mesmerising.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the Hubble post, Draco. There is some hope that Hubble and James Webb can work simultaneously until Hubble gives out. We’ve been fortunate to have 30 years with the Hubble, quite fantastic. Many thanks.

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