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Hubble - Optical Telescope Assembly

Hubble - Optical Telescope Assembly Astronomy Aviation & Space Exploration STEM Education

The Hubble Space Telescope, really an orbiting space observatory, has been an amazing source of stunning pictures for many years.

What is it, about Hubble, which helps it to capture such incredible images of space?

This NASA illustration, depicting the Hubble Space Telescope Optical Telescope Assembly, helps us to understand more about the technical workings of this unique observatory:

This image illustrates the Hubble Space Telescope's (HST's) Optical Telescope Assembly (OTA). One of the three major elements of the HST, the OTA consists of two mirrors (a primary mirror and a secondary mirror), support trusses, and the focal plane structure.

The mirrors collect and focus light from selected celestial objects and are housed near the center of the telescope. The primary mirror captures light from objects in space and focuses it toward the secondary mirror. The secondary mirror redirects the light to a focal plane where the Scientific Instruments are located.

The primary mirror is 94.5 inches (2.4 meters) in diameter and the secondary mirror is 12.2 inches (0.3 meters) in diameter.

The purpose of the HST, the most complex and sensitive optical telescope ever made, is to study the cosmos from a low-Earth Orbit. By placing the telescope in space, astronomers are able to collect data that is free of the Earth's atmosphere.

The HST detects objects 25 times fainter than the dimmest objects seen from the Earth and provides astronomers with an observable universe 250 times larger than visible from ground-based telescopes, perhaps as far away as 14 billion light-years.

The HST views galaxies, stars, planets, comets, possibly other solar systems, and even unusual phenomena such as quasars, with 10 times the clarity of ground-based telescopes.

The spacecraft is 42.5 feet (13 meters) long and weighs 25,000 pounds (11,600 kilograms). The HST was deployed from the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-31 mission) into Earth orbit in April 1990.

The Marshall Space Flight Center had responsibility for design, development, and construction of the HST. The Perkin-Elmer Corporation, in Danbury, Cornecticut, developed the optical system and guidance sensors. The Lockheed Missile and Space Company of Sunnyvale, California produced the protective outer shroud and spacecraft systems, and assembled and tested the finished telescope.

Click on the image for a much-better view.


Media Credits

NASA illustration and descriptions at Marshall Space Flight Center, MiX (Marshall Image Exchange), describing "Hubble Space Telescope Optical Telescope Assembly." Online, courtesy NASA. Public Domain.

 

 

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