The Hubble Space Telescope is a space telescope that was carried into orbit by a space shuttle in 1990. Although not the first space telescope, Hubble is one of the largest. Hubble was built by the NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). It is named after a famous astronomer called Edwin Hubble. The telescope was taken into space by Space Shuttle Discovery.
It had been hoped to put Hubble into orbit as early as 1983, but there were lots of problems building the telescope. Construction of the mirror actually began in 1979. It had to be polished to perfection to ensure that it would take the clearest pictures. Even when it was placed in orbit scientists found that the main mirror in the telescope was not as good as it should have been. This was replaced in 1993 and the images from then on were far clearer. It is because Hubble is outside Earth’s orbit that the pictures it takes are much clearer.
Four other missions have made improvements since 1990. The final service was completed in 2009. It is expected to continue operating until 2014 when a new telescope, The James Webb Space Telescope is due to begin work.
It was originally hoped to cost about €300 million but it ended up costing over €2 billion but it may actually have cost up to €4.5 billion.
Hubble has sent back some incredible images over the years and has also been responsible for some completely new discoveries. It has also measured the rate at which the universe is expanding. Hubble has also shown that that black holes are probably common to the centres of all galaxies. Hubble also photographed a comet crashing into the planet Jupiter.