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Hubble Space Telescope Trivia Quiz Questions With Answers

Trivia quiz with answers about the Hubble space telescope

 

Hubble Space Telescope Trivia Quiz Questions With Answers

What is the Hubble Space Telescope?
A: The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) is a space telescope that was launched into low Earth orbit in 1990 and remains in operation.

With a 2.4-meter (7.9 ft) mirror, Hubble's four main instruments observe in what spectra?
A: The near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared spectra.

Hubble's orbit outside the distortion of Earth's atmosphere allows it to take what?
A: Extremely high-resolution images, with substantially lower background light than ground-based telescopes.

Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as accurately determining what?
A: The rate of expansion of the universe.

Who built the HST?
A: It was built by the United States space agency NASA, with contributions from the European Space Agency.

Hubble was funded in the 1970s, with a proposed launch in 1983, but the project was beset by technical delays, budget problems, and what?
A: The Challenger disaster (1986).

When finally launched in 1990, Hubble's main mirror was found to have been what?
A: Ground incorrectly, compromising the telescope's capabilities.

 
The optics were corrected to their intended quality by what?
A: A servicing mission in 1993.

Hubble is the only telescope designed to be serviced how?
A: In space by astronauts.

After launch by Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990, five subsequent Space Shuttle missions did what?
A: Repaired, upgraded, and replaced systems on the telescope, including all five of the main instruments.

The fifth mission was initially canceled on what grounds?
A: Safety grounds following the Columbia disaster (2003).

However, after spirited public discussion, NASA administrator Mike Griffin did what?
A: He approved the fifth servicing mission, completed in 2009.

The telescope is operating as of 2018, and could last until when?
A: 2030–2040.

The history of the Hubble Space Telescope can be traced back as far as 1946, to what?
A: The astronomer Lyman Spitzer's paper "Astronomical advantages of an extraterrestrial observatory".

 
In it, what did he discuss?
A: He discussed the two main advantages that a space-based observatory would have over ground-based telescopes.

What was the first?
A: The angular resolution (the smallest separation at which objects can be clearly distinguished) would be limited only by diffraction, rather than by the turbulence in the atmosphere, which causes stars to twinkle, known to astronomers as seeing.

What was the second?
A: A space-based telescope could observe infrared and ultraviolet light, which are strongly absorbed by the atmosphere.

Spitzer devoted much of his career doing what?
A: Pushing for the development of a space telescope.

In 1962, a report by the US National Academy of Sciences recommended what?
A: The development of a space telescope as part of the space program.

In 1965 Spitzer was appointed as head of what?
A: A committee given the task of defining scientific objectives for a large space telescope.

In 1970, NASA established two committees, one to plan the engineering side of the space telescope project, and the other to do what?
A: To determine the scientific goals of the mission.

 
Once these had been established, the next hurdle for NASA was to obtain what?
A: Funding for the instrument, which would be far more costly than any Earth-based telescope.

In 1974, public spending cuts led to Congress doing what?
A: Deleting all funding for the telescope project.

Congress eventually approved funding of how much?
A: US$36 million for 1978 and the design of the LST began in earnest, aiming for a launch date of 1983.

In 1983 the telescope was named after whom?
A: Edwin Hubble, who made one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century when he discovered that the universe is expanding.

Optically, the HST is a Cassegrain reflector of Ritchey–Chrétien design, as are what?
A: Most large professional telescopes.

This design, with two hyperbolic mirrors, is known for what?
A: Good imaging performance over a wide field of view, with the disadvantage that the mirrors have shapes that are hard to fabricate and test.

The mirror and optical systems of the telescope determine what?
A: The final performance, and they were designed to exacting specifications.

 
Hubbles mirror needed to be polished to an accuracy of 10 nanometers (0.4 microinches), or about what?
A: 1/65 of the wavelength of red light.

Perkin-Elmer intended to use custom-built and extremely sophisticated computer-controlled polishing machines to do what?
A: Grind the mirror to the required shape.

Construction of the Perkin-Elmer mirror began in 1979, starting with what?
A: A blank manufactured by Corning from their ultra-low expansion glass.

To keep the mirror's weight to a minimum it consisted of what?
A: Top and bottom plates, each one inch (25 mm) thick, sandwiching a honeycomb lattice.

When was the mirror completed?
A: By the end of 1981.

In response to a schedule described as "unsettled and changing daily", NASA postponed the launch date of the telescope until when?
A: April 1985.

Perkin-Elmer's schedules continued to slip at a rate of about what?
A: One month per quarter, and at times delays reached one day for each day of work.

 
NASA was forced to postpone the launch date until March and then when?
A: September 1986.

By this time, the total project budget had risen to how much?
A: US$1.175 billion.

The spacecraft in which the telescope and instruments were to be housed was what?
A: Major engineering challenge.

It would have to withstand frequent passages from direct sunlight into the darkness of Earth's shadow, which would cause what?
A: Major changes in temperature.

When launched, what five scientific instruments did it carry?
A: The Wide Field and Planetary Camera (WF/PC), Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph (GHRS), High Speed Photometer (HSP), Faint Object Camera (FOC) and the Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS).

What was the WF/PC?
A: It was a high-resolution imaging device primarily intended for optical observations.

What was the GHRS?
A: It was a spectrograph designed to operate in the ultraviolet.

 
Also optimized for ultraviolet observations were the FOC and FOS, which were capable of what?
A: The highest spatial resolution of any instruments on Hubble.

Rather than CCDs these three instruments used what?
A: Photon-counting digicons as their detectors.

The final instrument was the HSP, which was optimized for what?
A: Visible and ultraviolet light observations of variable stars and other astronomical objects varying in brightness.

It could take up to how many measurements per second, with a photometric accuracy of about 2% or better?
A: 100,000.

Hubble's low orbit means many targets are visible for somewhat less than what?
A: Half of an orbit's elapsed time, since they are blocked from view by the Earth for one-half of each orbit.

One rather complex task that falls to STScI is scheduling what?
A: Observations for the telescope.

Why is Hubble in a low-Earth orbit?
A: To enable servicing missions.

 
Observations cannot take place when the telescope passes through the South Atlantic Anomaly due to what?
A: Elevated radiation levels.

There are also sizable exclusion zones around the what?
A: The sun (precluding observations of Mercury), Moon and Earth.

The Moon and Earth can be observed if what are turned off?
A: The FGSs.

Earth observations were used very early in the program to do what?
A: Generate flat-fields for the WFPC1 instrument.

The position along its orbit changes over time in a way that is what?
A: Not accurately predictable.

The density of the upper atmosphere varies according to many factors, and this means what?
A: That Hubble's predicted position for six weeks' time could be in error by up to 4,000 km (2,500 mi).

Hubble's operation is monitored 24 hours per day by four what?
A: Four teams of flight controllers who make up Hubble's Flight Operations Team.