Renowned for its beautiful images, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has been a great success for NASA despite a defective mirror that nearly ended the mission when the problem was detected after launch in 1990.
Hubble is used to create images from the Universe's visible light, free from the distortion caused by the Earth's atmosphere. It also has instruments that detect invisible infrared and ultraviolet radiation.
Image: The HST, which is named after Edwin Hubble, orbits the Earth in 2002 (credit: NASA)
This famous telescope makes beautiful images of the Universe.
The Sky at Night looks at Compton, Chandra, Hubble and Spitzer.
Sir Patrick Moore and his guests talk about the Compton, Chandra, Hubble and Spitzer space observatories, which are collectively known as the Great Observatories.
Hubble sees the Universe 700 million years after the Big Bang.
The Hubble Space Telescope has been used to create images of the furthest reaches of the Universe - only 700 million years after the Big Bang.
Patrick Moore and his guest discuss quasars.
Sir Patrick Moore and his guest Dr Jaspar Wall explain what quasars are and how we know they exist.
Dark matter is measured with gravitational lenses.
Hubble Space Telescope images provide evidence of dark matter's existence. Light from distant galaxies is bent by a gravitational lens created by the dark matter's mass in nearby galaxies.
BBC News reports on the space telescope's findings.
After a flaw in its mirror was corrected in 1993, the Hubble Space Telescope returned images of unprecedented clarity, as seen in this 1995 BBC News report.
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a space telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990, and remains in operation. Although not the first space telescope, Hubble is one of the largest and most versatile, and is well known as both a vital research tool and a public relations boon for astronomy. The HST is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble, and is one of NASA's Great Observatories, along with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope.
With a 2.4-meter (7.9 ft) mirror, Hubble's four main instruments observe in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared spectra. Hubble's orbit outside the distortion of Earth's atmosphere allows it to take extremely high-resolution images, with substantially lower background light than ground-based telescopes. Hubble has recorded some of the most detailed visible-light images ever, allowing a deep view into space and time. Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as accurately determining the rate of expansion of the universe.
The HST was built by the United States space agency NASA, with contributions from the European Space Agency. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) selects Hubble's targets and processes the resulting data, while the Goddard Space Flight Center controls the spacecraft.
Space telescopes were proposed as early as 1923. Hubble was funded in the 1970s, with a proposed launch in 1983, but the project was beset by technical delays, budget problems, and the Challenger disaster (1986). When finally launched in 1990, Hubble's main mirror was found to have been ground incorrectly, compromising the telescope's capabilities. The optics were corrected to their intended quality by a servicing mission in 1993.
Hubble is the only telescope designed to be serviced in space by astronauts. After launch by Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990, four subsequent Space Shuttle missions repaired, upgraded, and replaced systems on the telescope. A fifth mission was canceled on safety grounds following the Columbia disaster (2003). However, after spirited public discussion, NASA administrator Mike Griffin approved one final servicing mission, completed in 2009. The telescope is operating as of 2016[update], and could last until 2030–2040. Its scientific successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), is scheduled for launch in 2018.