This week, the Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its 25th anniversary and the portal V-kosmose.com decided to post a selection of the most amazing facts about the orbital observatory.
The telescope started aboard the space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, fulfilling the dream of many astronomers who were trying to place an astronomical observatory above the level of blur caused by the influence of the Earth's atmosphere.
Initially, it seemed that the Hubble mission would be completed before it began. Shortly after going into orbit, the engineers discovered that the 94-inch main telescope mirror has a manufacturing flaw that blurs the image.
In 1993, NASA sent an unprecedented mission into space to equip Hubble with corrective optics. Soon after, the space telescope hit astronomers by taking photos of the comet's fall on Jupiter.
Over the next 15 years, the astronauts conducted four more serving missions, installing new cameras and tools, replacing old electronics and computers. Timely repairs and upgrades paid off: Hubble measured how quickly the universe expanded, found out how galaxies are developing, and studied the gas that lies between the galaxies. Many of the discoveries of Hubble occurred in areas of astronomy, which did not even exist at the time of launching the space telescope. For example, exploring planets outside the solar system and discovering yet unexplained anti-gravitational force, known as “dark matter.”
NASA strives to keep Hubble working, at least until 2020, so his work may intersect with his successor: the James Webb space telescope, which is scheduled to launch in October 2018, and the first observations in 2019.
Currently, NASA is considering a proposal by scientists how to properly spend the last years of Hubble’s work. One such project is the use of natural lenses in space to look deeper into the past. These so-called “gravitational lenses” arise when massive clusters of galaxies distort the light coming from the objects behind them.
In addition to studying the early and weak galaxies in the universe, the study will help astrophysicists to create a dark matter map that cannot be detected visually. However, dark matter leaves a gravitational mark on visible matter, and thanks to it we can observe gravitational lenses.