Hubble Space TelescopeAssociated Press
Not since Galileo turned his telescope towards the heavens in 1610 has any event so changed our understanding of the universe as the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Hubble orbits 600 kilometers (375 miles) above Earth, working around the clock to unlock the secrets of the Universe. It uses excellent pointing precision, powerful optics, and state-of-the-art instruments to provide stunning views of the Universe that cannot be made using ground-based telescopes or other satellites.
Hubble was originally designed in the 1970s and launched in 1990. Thanks to on-orbit service calls by the Space Shuttle astronauts, Hubble continues to be a state-of-the-art, model year 2001 space telescope.
Hubble is the first scientific mission of any kind that is specifically designed for routine servicing by spacewalking astronauts. It has a visionary, modular design
which allows the astronauts to take it apart, replace worn out equipment and upgrade instruments. These periodic service calls make sure that Hubble produces first-class science using cutting-edge technology. Each time a science instrument in Hubble is replaced, it increases Hubble scientific power by a factor of 10 or greater!
Hubble's accomplishments are extraordinary. Before Hubble, distances to far-off galaxies were not well known. Questions such as how rapidly the universe is expanding, and for how long, created great controversy.
Hubble data has changed all of that.
Every day, Hubble archives 3 to 5 gigabytes of data and delivers between 10 and 15 gigabytes to astronomers all over the world. As of March 2000, Hubble has:
-Taken more than 330,000 separate observations.
-Observed more than 25,000 astronomical targets.
-Created a data archive of over 7.3 terabytes. (That is like completely filling a PC every day for 10 years.)
-Provided data for more than 2,663 scientific papers.
-Traveled about 1.489 billion miles-nearly the distance from Earth to Uranus. It circles the Earth about every 97 minutes.
-Received more than 93 hours of on-orbit improvements in three successful servicing missions.