Union Tribute

Written and Edited by: Estefany Escobedo

The Hubble Space Telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) site estimates there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. A recent German super-computer simulation estimates that the number may be as high as 500 billion! New and improved technology is used to change the estimated number of galaxies. For example, in 1999 the HST estimated that there were 125 billion galaxies in the universe, and recently with the new camera, HST has observed 3,000 visible galaxies, which is twice as much as they observed before with the old camera.

The Space Telescope Institute (STScI) is responsible for the scientific operation of the telescope and the delivery of the data products to astronomers. STScI is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) and is physically located in Baltimore, Maryland on the Homewood campus of John's Hopkins University. One rather complex task that falls to STScI is scheduling observations for the telescope. Hubble is in a low-Earth orbit to enable servicing missions, but this means that most astronomical targets are occulted by the Earth for slightly less than half of each orbit. Observations cannot take place when the telescope passes through the South Atlantic Anomaly due to elevated radiation levels, and there are also sizable exclusion zones around the Sun (precluding observations of Mercury), Moon and Earth.

Engineering support for HST is provided by NASA and contractor personnel at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.From its original total cost estimate of about US$400 million, the telescope had by now cost over $2.5 billion to construct. Hubble's cumulative costs up to this day are estimated to be several times higher still, roughly US$10 billion as of 2010.Although the HST has clearly helped astronomical research, its financial cost has been large.

The Hubble Space Telescope has won two Space Achievement Awards from the Space Foundation for its outreach activities, in 2001 and 2010.