Hubble Space Telescope: Scientific American 1982

The Space Telescope
Author(s):John N. Bahcall and Lyman Spitzer, Jr.
Journal:Scientific American, 247, No. 1, 40-51 (July 1982)

This article presents a brief history of the scientific and political developments that led to the Hubble Space Telescope and then describes how the telescope and its instrumentation work. As indicated by the bibliographical information, the article was written in 1982, with the expectation that the telescope would be placed into orbit by the space shuttle in 1985. Despite the tragedy of the Challenger disaster, the telescope was finally launched in 1990 and has operated, after the first repair mission, pretty much as expected. If you would like to know something about the background to the HST successes of today and what we thought were, before the launch, the most important scientific problems to be addressed, you may find this article particuarly interesting.

The final pargraph concludes: ``The [Hubble] Space Telescope will help to solve many outstanding astronomical puzzles. The greatest excitement, however, will come when the pictures returned from the satellite reveal things that no one in this generation of astronomers has dreamed of, phenomena that only the next generation will be privileged to understand.''

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