Thursday, September 10, 2009

Visual Science Images from the Repaired Hubble Telescope

The counterpart to visual art and visual culture is visual science. Visual science is the creation of images that communicate observations and processes in scientific investigations. Scientific illustrators do drawings, paintings and models to explore and explain scientific phenomena while others use telescopes and microscopes affixed to cameras or special devices like fMRIs (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to explore what can't be seen by the human eye.

One of the greatest tools ever created for visual science is the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Named after the trailblazing astronomer Edwin P. Hubble (1889-1953), the Hubble Space Telescope is a large, space-based observatory which has revolutionized astronomy by providing unprecedented deep and clear views of the Universe, ranging from our own solar system to extremely remote fledgling galaxies forming not long after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.

Launched in 1990 and greatly extended in its scientific powers through new instrumentation installed during four servicing missions with the Space Shuttle, the Hubble, in its eighteen years of operations, has validated Lyman Spitzer Jr.'s (1914-1997) original concept of a diversely instrumented observatory orbiting far above the distorting effects of the Earth's atmosphere and returning data of unique scientific value.

Hubble's coverage of light of different colors (its "spectral range") extends from the ultraviolet, through the visible (to which our eyes are sensitive), and into the near-infrared. Hubble's primary mirror is 2.4 meters (94.5 inches) in diameter. Hubble orbits Earth every 96 minutes, 575 kilometers (360 miles) above the Earth's surface.

Click on the heading above to go to NASA's Hubble website.

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