The Space Telescope was named after American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble.
The telescope's primary mirror is 2.4 meters in diameter, and the overall length is 13.1 meters (about 43 feet).
The telescope was initially brought into orbit via the Space Shuttle Discovery April 24th 1990. The first Service mission occurred during the first two weeks of December 1993.
HST was the first of the Great Observatories to be launched and initially covers the UV/Visible region of the spectrum. It will operate contemporaneously with the Gamma Ray Observatory (GRO), Advanced X-Ray Astronomical Facility (AXAF), and possibly Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF).
The time dedicated to these projects in subsequent cycles has been enough to discontinue the special status of Key Project - they are listed here to help illustrate some of HST's important objectives.
|Galaxies and Clusters|
|Extragalactic distances, star clusters, interacting galaxies, normal galactic nuclei, galaxy clusters, distant galaxies, cosmological tests, etc.|
|Dust and extinction, supernovae remnants, planetary nebulae, star formation, circumstellar nebulosity, etc.|
|Quasars and Active Galactic Nuclei|
|Quasi-stellar objects, Seyfert galaxies, BL Lac objects, radio galaxies, galactic jets, gravitational lenses.|
|Stellar atmospheres and chemical composition, binary and variable stars, stellar photometry and polarimetry, parallaxes and proper motions of stars, etc.|
|Color-magnitude and luminosity studies of star clusters, dynamics of clusters, structure of the galaxy, stellar surveys, etc.|
|Planetary featuresand atmospheres, staellites and rings, asteroids and comets, extra-solar planets, tests of general relativity, etc.|
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is distinguished from ground-based observatories by its capability to observe light in the ultraviolet and near infrared. It also has an order of magnitude better resolution than is capable from within the earth's atmosphere.
The telescope is modular in design, for on-orbit servicing via the Space Transportation System (STS). Over the course of its anticipated 15-year operational lifetime, it may be visited by several Space Shuttle crews, for installation of new instruments, repairs, and maintenance.
HST is a 2.4-meter Ritchey-Chretien reflector with a cluster of five scientific instruments at the focal plane of the telescope, and the Fine Guidance Sensors. The European Space Agency (ESA) has provided one of the science instruments (Faint Object Camera), the Solar arrays, and some operational support to the program. Data is relayed to earth via the high gain Antennae..
Orbit 611 kilometer altitude, 28.5 degree inclination circular orbit Weight 11,000 kilograms
The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), Baltimore, Maryland, opened in 1981. NASA selected the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) to manage STScI as an astronomy research center and international observatory. AURA selected the Johns Hopkins University as the site for STScI.
|Faint Object Camera (FOC) - D. Macchetto (ESA)|
|Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS) - D. Harms (ARC)|
|Goddard High Resolution Spectrometer (GHRS) - J. Brandt (University of Colorado)|
|High Speed Photometer (HSP) - R. Bless (University of Wisconsin)|
|Wide Field/Planetary Camera (WF/PC) - J. Westphal (California Institute of Technology)|
|Fine Guidance Sensor (FGS) Astrometry - W. Jeffreys (University of Texas)|
|First servicing mission:|
|Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (COSTAR) - Ball Aerospace|
|Wide Field/Planetary Camera-II (WF/PC-II) - J. Trauger (California Institute of Technology)|
|Planned replacement instruments:|
|Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) - B. Woodgate (GSFC)|
|Near Infrared Camera (NIC) - R. Thompson (University of Arizona)|
|Detectors that are UV sensitive and blind to visible radiation|
|Wood filters for CCDs|
|Tunable filters: Fabry-Perot interferometers; Cousteau optical filters for UV; birefringent filters (Lyot)|
|Increase the longevity of CCD detectors in high radiation environments|
|High dynamic range microchannel plates|
|Larger format detector arrays|
|Detectors for near IR with low noise, high uniformity|
|Long-life, replenishable cryogenic systems|