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A space telescope or space observatory is a telescope in outer space used to observe astronomical objects. Suggested by
Lyman Spitzer Lyman Spitzer Jr. (June 26, 1914 – March 31, 1997) was an American theoretical physicist, astronomer and mountaineer. As a scientist, he carried out research into star formation Star formation is the process by which dense regions within m ...

Lyman Spitzer
in 1946, the first operational telescopes were the American
Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 250px, OAO-3 in the clean room The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO) satellite In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object that has been intentionally placed into orbit. These objects are called artificial satellites to dis ...

Orbiting Astronomical Observatory
,
OAO-2 The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 2 (OAO-2, nicknamed ''Stargazer'') was the first successful space telescope (first space telescope being OAO-1, which failed to operate once in orbit), launched on December 7, 1968. An Atlas-Centaur The A ...
launched in 1968, and the Soviet Orion 1 ultraviolet telescope aboard space station
Salyut 1 Salyut 1 (DOS-1) (russian: Салют-1) was the first space station launched into low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on April 19, 1971. The Salyut program followed this with five more successful launches of seven more stations. The final modul ...
in 1971. Space telescopes avoid the filtering and distortion ( scintillation) of
electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. ...

electromagnetic radiation
which they observe, and avoid
light pollution Light pollution is the presence of unwanted, inappropriate, or excessive artificial lighting Lighting or illumination is the deliberate use of light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the elect ...

light pollution
which ground-based observatories encounter. They are divided into two types: Satellites which map the entire sky (
astronomical survey An astronomical survey is a general map A map is a symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, Object (philosophy), object, or wikt:relationship, relationship. Symbols a ...
), and satellites which focus on selected
astronomical objects In astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celestial event, phenomena. It us ...
or parts of the sky and beyond. Space telescopes are distinct from
Earth imaging satellites Earth is the third planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to c ...
, which point toward Earth for
satellite imaging Satellite images (also Earth observation imagery, spaceborne photography, or simply satellite photo) are image An SAR radar imaging, radar image acquired by the SIR-C/X-SAR radar on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour shows the Teide volcano. ...

satellite imaging
, applied for weather analysis,
espionage Espionage or spying is the act of obtaining secret Secrecy is the practice of hiding information Information can be thought of as the resolution of uncertainty; it answers the question of "What an entity is" and thus defines both it ...
, and
other types of information gathering
other types of information gathering
.


History

Wilhelm Beer Wilhelm Wolff Beer (4 January 1797 – 27 March 1850) was a banker A bank is a financial institution Financial institutions, otherwise known as banking institutions, are corporations that provide services as intermediaries of fin ...

Wilhelm Beer
and
Johann Heinrich Mädler Johann, typically a male given name, is the Germanized form of the originally Hebrew language name ''יוחנן (Yohanan)'' (meaning "God is merciful"). It is a form of the Germanic and Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging ...

Johann Heinrich Mädler
in 1837 discussed the advantages of an observatory on the Moon. In 1946, American theoretical astrophysicist
Lyman Spitzer Lyman Spitzer Jr. (June 26, 1914 – March 31, 1997) was an American theoretical physicist, astronomer and mountaineer. As a scientist, he carried out research into star formation Star formation is the process by which dense regions within m ...

Lyman Spitzer
proposed a telescope in space. Spitzer's proposal called for a large telescope that would not be hindered by Earth's atmosphere. After lobbying in the 1960s and 70s for such a system to be built, Spitzer's vision ultimately materialized into the
Hubble Space Telescope The Hubble Space Telescope (often referred to as HST or Hubble) is a space telescope A space telescope or space observatory is a telescope in outer space used to observe astronomical objects. Suggested by Lyman Spitzer in 1946, the first ...

Hubble Space Telescope
, which was launched on April 24, 1990 by the
Space Shuttle ''Discovery''
Space Shuttle ''Discovery''
(STS-31). The first operational space telescopes were the American
Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 250px, OAO-3 in the clean room The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory (OAO) satellite In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object that has been intentionally placed into orbit. These objects are called artificial satellites to dis ...

Orbiting Astronomical Observatory
,
OAO-2 The Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 2 (OAO-2, nicknamed ''Stargazer'') was the first successful space telescope (first space telescope being OAO-1, which failed to operate once in orbit), launched on December 7, 1968. An Atlas-Centaur The A ...
launched in 1968, and the Soviet Orion 1 ultraviolet telescope aboard space station
Salyut 1 Salyut 1 (DOS-1) (russian: Салют-1) was the first space station launched into low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on April 19, 1971. The Salyut program followed this with five more successful launches of seven more stations. The final modul ...
in 1971.


Advantages

Performing
astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celestial event, phenomena. It uses mathematics, phys ...
from ground-based observatories on Earth is limited by the filtering and distortion of
electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. ...

electromagnetic radiation
( scintillation or twinkling) due to the
atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or 'sphere') is a layer or a set of layers of gases surrounding a planet or other material body, that is held in ...

atmosphere
. A telescope orbiting Earth outside the atmosphere is subject neither to twinkling nor to
light pollution Light pollution is the presence of unwanted, inappropriate, or excessive artificial lighting Lighting or illumination is the deliberate use of light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the elect ...

light pollution
from artificial light sources on Earth. As a result, the
angular resolution Angular resolution describes the ability of any image-forming device such as an optical or radio telescope A radio telescope is a specialized antenna and radio receiver radio in the 1940s. During the golden age of radio, 1925–1955, fa ...

angular resolution
of space telescopes is often much higher than a ground-based telescope with a similar
aperture In optics, an aperture is a hole or an opening through which light travels. More specifically, the aperture and focal length of an optical system determine the cone angle of a bundle of ray (optics), rays that come to a focus (optics), focus ...

aperture
. Many larger terrestrial telescopes, however, reduce atmospheric effects with
adaptive optics Adaptive optics (AO) is a technology used to improve the performance of optical systems by reducing the effect of incoming wavefront In physics, the wavefront of a time-varying field is the set (locus Locus (plural loci) is Latin for "place" ...

adaptive optics
. Space-based astronomy is more important for frequency ranges which are outside the
optical window The optical window is a range of wavelengths that are not blocked by the Earth, earth's atmosphere. The window runs from around 300 nanometers (Ultraviolet, ultraviolet-B) up into the range the human eye can detect, roughly 400–700 nm and continu ...
and the
radio windowThe radio window is a range of frequencies Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency, which emphasizes the contrast to spatial frequency and angular frequency. Freq ...
, the only two wavelength ranges of the
electromagnetic spectrum The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of frequencies Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time A unit of time is any particular time Time is the indefinite continued sequence, progress of existe ...

electromagnetic spectrum
that are not severely attenuated by the atmosphere. For example,
X-ray astronomy X-ray astronomy is an observational branch of astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects ...
is nearly impossible when done from Earth, and has reached its current importance in astronomy only due to orbiting X-ray telescopes such as the Chandra observatory and the
XMM-Newton observatory
XMM-Newton observatory
.
Infrared Infrared (IR), sometimes called infrared light, is electromagnetic radiation (EMR) with wavelengths longer than those of Light, visible light. It is therefore invisible to the human eye. IR is generally understood to encompass wavelengths from ...

Infrared
and
ultraviolet Ultraviolet (UV) is a form of electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that stud ...

ultraviolet
are also largely blocked.


Disadvantages

Space telescopes are much more expensive to build than ground-based telescopes. Due to their location, space telescopes are also extremely difficult to maintain. The Hubble Space Telescope was serviced by the
Space Shuttle The Space Shuttle is a retired, partially reusable low Earth orbit A low Earth orbit (LEO) is an Earth-centered orbit near the planet, often specified as having a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * ...

Space Shuttle
, but most space telescopes cannot be serviced at all.


Future of space observatories

Satellites have been launched and operated by
NASA The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA; ) is an independent agencies of the United States government, independent agency of the Federal government of the United States, U.S. federal government responsible for the civilian Li ...

NASA
,
ISRO The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO ) is the national space agency of India India, officially the Republic of India (: ), is a country in . It is the by area, the country, and the most populous in the world. Bounded by the ...
,
ESA , owner = , headquarters = Paris, Île-de-France, France , coordinates = , spaceport = Guiana Space Centre , seal = File:ESA emblem seal.png , seal_size = 130px , image = ESA Headquarters in Paris, France, 2 ...

ESA
,
CNSA China National Space Administration (CNSA; ) is the national space agency This is a list of government agencies engaged in activities related to outer space Outer space is the expanse that exists beyond Earth and between astrono ...
,
JAXA The is the Japanese national aerospace and space agency. Through the merger of three previously independent organizations, JAXA was formed on 1 October 2003. JAXA is responsible for research, technology development and launch of satellites int ...
and the
Soviet space program The Soviet space program (russian: Космическая программа СССР, Kosmicheskaya programma SSSR) was the national space program of the Soviet Union, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), conducted in competition with ...
later succeeded by
Roscosmos The State Space Corporation "Roscosmos" (russian: Государственная корпорация по космической деятельности «Роскосмос»), commonly known simply as Roscosmos (russian: Роскосмос) ...
of Russia. As of 2018, many space observatories have already completed their missions, while others continue operating on extended time. However, the future availability of space telescopes and observatories depends on timely and sufficient funding. While future space observatories are planned by NASA, JAXA and the
CNSA China National Space Administration (CNSA; ) is the national space agency This is a list of government agencies engaged in activities related to outer space Outer space is the expanse that exists beyond Earth and between astrono ...
, scientists fear that there would be gaps in coverage that would not be covered immediately by future projects and this would affect research in fundamental science.


List of space telescopes


See also

*
Airborne observatory An airborne observatory is an airplane An airplane or aeroplane (informally plane) is a fixed-wing aircraft that is propelled forward by thrust from a jet engine, Propeller (aircraft), propeller, or rocket engine. Airplanes come in a variety ...
*
Earth observation satellite An Earth observation satellite or Earth remote sensing satellite is a satellite used or designed for Earth observation (EO) from orbit, including spy satellites and similar ones intended for non-military uses such as natural environment, environm ...
*
List of telescope types The following are lists of devices categorized as types of telescopes or devices associated with telescopes. They are broken into major classifications with many variations due to professional, amateur, and commercial sub-types. Telescopes can be ...
*
Observatory An observatory is a location used for observing terrestrial, marine, or celestial events. Astronomy, climatology/meteorology, geophysics, geophysical, oceanography and volcanology are examples of disciplines for which observatories have been cons ...

Observatory
*
Timeline of artificial satellites and space probes This timeline of artificial satellite In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object that has been intentionally placed into orbit. These objects are called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as E ...
* Timeline of telescopes, observatories, and observing technology *
Ultraviolet astronomy Ultraviolet astronomy is the observation of electromagnetic radiation at ultraviolet wavelengths between approximately 10 and 320 nanometres; shorter wavelengths—higher energy photons—are studied by X-ray astronomy and gamma ray astro ...
*
X-ray astronomy satellite. An X-ray astronomy satellite studies X-ray emissions from celestial objects, as part of a branch of space science known as X-ray astronomy. Satellites are needed because X-radiation is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, so instruments to detect X- ...


References


Further reading

* Neil English: ''Space Telescopes - Capturing the Rays of the Electromagnetic Spectrum.'' Springer, Cham 2017, .


External links

* · {{DEFAULTSORT:Space Observatory American inventions Astronomical observatories Telescope types Uncrewed spacecraft