Once we believed outer space was a black and empty void, littered with isolated galaxies. Now we find that notion couldn't be further from the truth! Through the images captured by the Hubble Telescope, we discovered that our universe is both dynamically active and very much alive!
This diagram illustrates a map of the light rays and images we are now able to see. The images we see at the edge of our viewing range represents our universe when it was quite young because it took so long for the light rays carrying thoseimages to arrive here.
Since it was launched from the space shuttle Discovery on April 25, 1990, the Hubble Telescope has provided stunning images of a universe previously unimaginable at a stunning speeds. In fact, it transmits and average of 120 gigabytes of scientific data in a typical week. That would fill enough books to fill a shelf spanning over 3,300 feet!
This massive telescope requires 2,800 watts of energy which is provided by the sun through two 25 foot solar panels. It has six nickel hydrogen batteries that store power equal to that found in twenty car batteries. Collectively, these batteries weigh 460 pounds, with each one measuring 36" X 36" and standing 11 inches high.
To be able to capture these dramatic images, the Hubble must be able to focus on its subject without deviating more than 7/1000th's of an arc second which is equivalent to the width of a human hair as seen from a distance of one mile.
One interesting side note is that if all the time that passed since the universe began were squeezed into a 24 hour time period, humankind would have only existed for the last two seconds.