What Comes Around, Goes Around: Celebrating Hubble's 100,000th Orbit
Treasure chest of stars
On August 11, 2008 at 7:42 a.m. Eastern time, the Hubble Space Telescope accomplished a major milestone by completing its 100,000th orbit around Earth. In honor of this milestone, scientists used the telescope to capture an image of a dazzling star-forming region located near star cluster NGC 2074.
Racking up ‘frequent flier’ miles
The telescope circles our planet about once every 90 minutes. During its 18 years in orbit, Hubble has racked up more than 2.5 billion miles (4 billion km). This distance is equivalent to traveling from Saturn to the Sun and back. The average car only travels about 160,000 miles in its lifetime. This makes Hubble’s travels around our planet equal to the lifetime of about 15,000 cars.
Hubble gets a tune-up
The Hubble Space Telescope:
18 years in orbit
Hubble was the first space telescope designed to be serviced in space. Scientists believed that periodic servicing missions would extend Hubble’s operating life and keep the observatory up-to-date. Astronauts have already visited Hubble four times, and another visit is scheduled for October 2008. The visit, called Servicing Mission 4, will increase the telescope’s scientific power and keep it operational until at least 2013.
Uncovering the secrets of the universe
Returning to Hubble :
John Grunsfeld during SM3B
The servicing missions that keep Hubble running smoothly have paid off. The orbiting observatory has made about 870,000 observations resulting in more than 560,000 images of celestial objects. Hubble’s contributions to astronomy include providing clues to how galaxies evolve over time and how stars form and die. The telescope also has helped astronomers determine a more exact age for the universe.