Rights: University of Waikato. All Rights Reserved. Published 27 March 2013 Download

Name: Hubble Space Telescope

Organisation: NASA, European Space Agency

Mission: telescope free of interference from Earth’s atmosphere

Launch date: 1990

Type of orbit: near-circular low-Earth orbit

Period: 96–97 minutes

Perigee: 561 km

Apogee: 566 km


Dr Allan McInnes

How high up is the Hubble Space Telescope? It is 560 kilometres altitude – so it’s in a low-Earth orbit – partly it’s there because it was easy to get to with the Space Shuttle. Hubble Space Telescope is designed to study the universe; it’s a telescope that was put in space so it was above the atmosphere.

If you’re on the ground trying to look at space and there’s a lot of air in the way and it makes it harder to see what’s going on, it’s like trying to look through fog essentially, but maybe not quite as thick. So if we put a telescope up in space, we get a much clearer view, and Hubble’s returned some fantastic images as a result. There are other space telescopes up there, some are up there already, others are planned, they’re in a variety of different orbits. It really depends on what we’re trying to study with the telescope.