Bob Pickard

Article: The Hubble Space Telescope is One Stellar Observatory

CSC World; IABC Gold Quill award winner


Orbiting 365 miles above Earth and carrying the largest scientific telescope put into space, the Hubble Space Telescope is the premier observatory in astronomy. Scientists around the world compete for a chance to use it, and NASA's Hubble website gets 100,000 hits a day from people who want to see its latest color photos of exploded stars and newly discovered galaxies.

But years ago, the space telescope was the target of jokes on everything from "The Tonight Show" to the movie "Naked Gun 2-1/2." Weeks after its much-postponed launch in April 1990, the $3 billion observatory, once touted as the "eighth wonder of the world," was found to be flawed. The surface of the mirror, the heart of the telescope, had been incorrectly ground. It was only two microns off---1/50th the width of a human hair---but that was enough to prevent precise focusing of the light entering the bus-sized spacecraft.