Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley
A spacecraft launched to observe the Sun, stars, and remote galaxies is called a space observatory. The HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE was the first really important space observatory.
Earth’s moving atmosphere bends and distorts the light from distant stars and galaxies. In space, observatories can see far more clearly. They can also pick up radiation (such as X-rays) that we cannot detect on Earth because it is absorbed by molecules in the atmosphere.
Launched from the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) orbits about 370 miles (600 km) above Earth. It sends back some of the most detailed images of the Universe ever seen.