The Hubble Space Telescope is currently out of action, seemingly from a
computer-related fault, though booting up the backup computer hasn’t
made a difference (so far). In the meantime, here
is a retrospective on how that outermost of our sky-seeing eyes came to
be, and what it has achieved. Born out of repurposed parts from an
unneeded spy satellite? You might think that; those who know couldn’t
possibly comment ...
By the way, this description of the fault with the mirror
And oh yes, that mirror. Younger readers won’t recall the shock at
first light when a tiny mistake in its shape made the star of the
show useless. Nobody’s saying how many spybirds were similarly
afflicted, but where it mattered the most, Hubble was blind.
is wrong. Hubble wasn’t blind, it was merely short-sighted. Those
pictures that were supposed to have more detail than anything
achievable from ground level were only fair-to-middling.
I remember a visit to Waikato University in the early 1990s from a
researcher in the US who was part of a team that was modelling the
blurring effect of the mirror aberration, and applying it in reverse to
sharpen up the images to something resembling the quality they were
supposed to have. I think they were achieving some useful results.
Eventually, of course, their work became unnecessary, as that wonder of
eyeglass contraptions called COSTAR was installed.
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