So this was just put out there: http://www.nbcnews.com/science/hubble-telescope-finds-source-cosmic-stream-near-milky-way-6C10911426
And yup, you read that right: the Hubble is a low earth orbiting (LEO) satellite, just like the others that Digitalglobe and RapidEye use–except the payload, the camera and telescope, points outwards. Don’t get me wrong–if the Hubble hadn’t been that low to the Earth, the space shuttle astronauts would’ve never been able to fix that pesky telescope optical problem by accomplishing servicing mission 1, nor this problem either (to name a few).
This picture is courtesy of Hubblesite.org.
But this is a nice segue to my next post, which is: there are a few cons for low earth orbiting satellites. Considering the Hubble’s mission, which is primarily looking at the wide open galaxy around the Earth, why put it in such a low orbit? The orbit is a near-circular about 347 miles above the Earth’s surface. Wouldn’t it be better for the telescope to be further away from: Earth’s reflection of light and Earth’s atmosphere (aerobraking) possibly getting in the way? Especially when you consider all the cons, or the complicated infrastructure required, for LEOs.
- Hubble Space Telescope finds source of Magellanic Stream (eurekalert.org)
- SOLVED: Space Mystery 40 Years In The Making (huffingtonpost.com)
- Hubble telescope finds source of cosmic stream near Milky Way (nbcnews.com)
- Scientists Have Finally Solved A 40-Year-Old Galactic Mystery (businessinsider.com)