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Top 10 Hubble Space Telescope Facts

By Becky Wolfe, Director of School Programs and Educational Resources

*This post was originally published on April 22, 2015, in recognition of the Hubble Space Telescope's 25th anniversary.*

Twenty-Five years ago this week, the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into space. On April 24, 1990, a team of astronauts aboard the space shuttle Discovery launched into low-earth orbit. Their primary mission was to deploy Hubble. Unlike satellites that are launched into space to explore planets, Hubble is in orbit around the Earth. One of the things that make Hubble so unique is its long history of sending back incredible images from deep space, along with its ability to house a collection of instruments to explore deep space. It’s more than just a big camera. Here is our list of 10 amazing facts about the Hubble Telescope!

  1. Over the past 25 years, five space shuttle missions have updated the telescope. While the mirror needed to be repaired, Hubble was also designed to be updated with new equipment including cameras. 
  2. Hubble is traveling 350 miles above the surface of the earth. 
  3. The telescope orbits at a speed of 17,500 miles per hour. That’s about 5 miles every second!
  4. Since it launched, Hubble has returned more than 1 million observations. 
  5. The telescope is about the size of a school bus, at 43.5 feet. 
  6. Hubble has sent back images of galaxies that are deeper into space than we have ever seen. 
  7. Scientists all over the world use data and images from Hubble to study deep space. 
  8. Hubble has helped scientists discover new galaxies, solar systems, and even planets that rotate around stars like our solar system. 
  9. We have learned more about the planets in our solar system, thanks to Hubble. Discoveries include exploring the storms of Jupiter, and learning more about Saturn’s moons and rings.
  10. The Hubble Space Telescope is named after Edwin Hubble, a prominent astronomer, whose changed the way scientists understand the universe. 

You can learn about the Hubble Space Telescope, the International Space Station, and other space-travel objects in Beyond Spaceship Earth at The Children's Museum!