Hubble Telescope – How far it can see, location and size

Launching into Earth orbit April 25, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope has been tracking the distant Earth for more than 30 years.

Designed to study ultraviolet, visible and infrared light waves, the solar-powered space telescope collects about 40,000 times more light than the human eye.

This has allowed Hubble to capture some of the most interesting images known to man, including images of remote tadpole galaxies, star births, nebulae and supernovae.

But despite his amazing findings, you may have a number of questions about this technological marvel. Questions like ‘How Long Can the Hubble Space Telescope See? ‘,’ How big is it? ‘ and ‘What will replace it?’.

Find out the answers (and everything you need to know about NASA’s satellite) below.

How Far to See the Hubble Telescope?

The longest galaxy the Hubble telescope has ever seen is the GN-z11 galaxy, about 13.4 billion light-years away.

Because the galaxy is so far away that light cannot travel as fast (299,792,458 meters per second), Hubble is effectively looking back in time when you look at distant objects.

While Hubble looked at GN-z11 as it was about 13.4 billion years ago, the galaxy will now be located about 32 billion light-years from Earth as a result of Earth’s expansion.

How Big is the Hubble Space Telescope?

Weighing in at 11,110 kg (just under two African elephants), the Hubble Space Telescope is about 13.2m long – about the length of a bus.

The telescope relies on a large 2.4m (7.8ft) mirror to provide its views. When it was first launched, a small flaw in this mirror meant that Hubble could not focus its lens, with all the captured images appearing blurry.

Fortunately, three years later, in December 1993, the telescope was repaired by the Space Shuttle Endeavor crew over 11 days and five spacecraft. (You can listen to our podcast with the Kathryn Sullivan, who was part of the mission).

Where is the Hubble Space Telescope right now?

The Hubble Space Telescope moves about 547 kilometers (340 miles) above the Earth and travels 8km (5 miles) per second. With an inclination of 28.5 degrees to the equator, it moves around the Earth once every 97 minutes.

The Hubble Space Telescope location can be traced in real time here.

What did the Hubble Space Telescope find?

During its 30+ year mission, the Hubble Space Telescope has captured more than 1.4 million views, with 16,000 studies using this data.

The telescope has shed light on the causes of the gamma-ray explosion, how planetary crashes work, the expansion of the Earth and even a hidden dark subject.

Hubble is also credited for discovering Pluto’s two moons (Nix and Hydra), and how almost every major galaxy is anchored with a black hole in its heart. The telescope has also increased our understanding of the age of the Earth, the perception of exoplanets and how galaxies grow.

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Who was the Hubble Space Telescope named after?

The telescope is named in honor of Edwin Hubble (1889-1953), an astronomer who discovered many galaxies outside of us using a telescope in California in the 1920s.

He is often credited with declaring the expansion of the Universe, a discovery made in 1929.

Dr Edwin Hubble with the Schmidt Photographic Telescope in 1949 © Getty

Has the Hubble telescope been replaced?

With no motion system of its own, the Hubble Space Telescope crashes back to Earth. But slowly: a September 2018 report predicts Hubble’s re-entry no earlier than 2027. The average date is around 2038.

However, its successor, the James Webb Telescope (equipped with a 6.5-meter lens) is set to launch in 2021.

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