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The Workings Behind The Hubble Space Telescope’s Incredible Images

How Hubble Telescope Peers Into the Milky Way
How Hubble Telescope Peers Into the Milky Way

Updated January 20th, 2020

The Hubble Space Telescope is a basic reflector with a mirror and a long cylinder open to receiving light at one end. Its mirrors gather infrared and ultraviolet light that floods into it from across the universe and direct it towards where its ''eyes" are located. Ultraviolet astronomy cannot be conducted on earth as the gases in the upper atmosphere distort and block some of the light from space. Hubble circumvents this by orbiting high above the atmosphere, producing some of the clearest and deepest images of the universe.

Hubble Space Telescope’s Biggest Discoveries

Hubble Space Telescope has been in space for more than 28 years and has revolutionized the way we view the universe and produced new astronomy facts.

  • Using the Hubble Telescope, scientists found that dark energy has been present from the beginning of the universe and is the reason that it is expanding.
  • Hubble found that the age of the universe is between 13 and 14 billion years.
  • It discovered two new moons of Pluto, Nix and Hydra.
  • Its images put an end to any debate in astronomical circles as to whether major galaxies all had black holes at their centers.
  • Hubble was able to track seasonal changes on planets in the Milky Way galaxy and allowed Jupiter’s weather enabling researchers to see color changes in its cloud bands.
  • By capturing images of the disks of solar debris that eventually constitute planets, Hubble proved that planets are far more common than was previously thought.

The Hubble Space Telescope’s Spacecraft Systems

Hubble is more than a telescope equipped with specialized astronomical instruments; it is also a spacecraft that needs to navigate its way around space and communicate its findings with the earth.

Solar Arrays

Hubble is powered by sunlight collected by its wing-like solar cell containing panels that convert solar energy into electricity.

Computers and Microprocessors

There are two main computers and several microprocessors that operate the Hubble Space Telescope's body and instruments. One communicates and sends commands to the instruments while the other controls gyroscopes and system functions.


Hubble’s four antennas allow it to receive detailed information from technicians who communicate with the telescope. Its antennas send and receive information through satellites which then communicate with earth.

Thermal Insulation

The Hubble Telescope is protected from extreme temperatures by a multilayered blanket of thermal insulation.

Pointing System

The telescope is guided and oriented by gyroscopes, reaction wheels and fine guidance sensors.

The Hubble Space Telescope has succeeded in capturing even the farthest reaches of the universe in its eXtreme Deep Field image of galaxies 13 billion light-years away. By combining more than 2,000 images, it revealed thousands of galaxies stretching back in time to the creation of the first stars. It has made some of the most dramatic discoveries in astronomic history and is widely considered to be the most productive scientific instrument ever built. (For more space info, please click here.)


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