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PICTURES: Hubble Space Telescope Hits Millionth Observation Milestone PICTURES: Hubble Space Telescope Hits Millionth Observation Miles... PICTURES: Hubble Space Telescope Hits Millionth Observation Milestone PICTURES: Hubble Space Te...

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Tech / TECHNOLOGY

PICTURES: Hubble Space Telescope Hits Millionth Observation Milestone

This is an artist’s concept of the extrasolar planet HAT-P-7b. It is a “hot Jupiter” class planet orbiting a star that is much hotter than our Sun. For its millionth observation, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s was trained on this planet to look for the presence of water vapour and to study the planet’s atmospheric structure via spectroscopy. Planets with orbits inclined nearly edge-on to Earth can be observed passing in front of and behind their stars. This allows for the planetary atmospheres to be studied by Hubble’s spectrometers. Hubble’s unique capabilities allow astronomers to do follow-up observations of exoplanets to characterise the composition and structure of their atmospheres.(NASA, ESA and G. Bacon (STScI))

photo of Kenneth Chamberlain
July 5, 2011

The Universe's Most Distant Object as Seen From the Hubble Space Telescope

Well-known for its spectacular photographs of the universe, the Hubble Space Telescope has recorded its one millionth observation -- and ironically, it wasn't a photograph at all. Instead, it was a detailed analysis of the chemical makeup of an exoplanet's atmosphere, from which NASA released an artist's conception (see slide #11 below).

In its 21-year history, Hubble has recorded 50 terabytes of images and other scientific data, according to NASA. Despite Hubble's usefulness to scientists around the world, its lifespan is coming to a close. Its last servicing mission from a space shuttle was designed to keep the telescope going only until about 2013.

But researchers won't be without orbiting telescopes, which are often necessary to obtain the clearest observations in light that is filtered out by Earth's atmosphere. In addition to other telescopes currently in orbit, NASA plans on launching Hubble's successor, of sorts, the James Webb Space Telescope, in 2015. In preparation for that launch, NASA has requested about $373 million for FY2012, and plans on similar amounts in following years.

 

Selecting the best few photos from Hubble's history is not easy; below is a sampling of some of the telescope's most recent images.

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