Thursday, 15 February 2007

Chandra X-ray Observatory

"I am aware of the usefulness of science to society and of the benefits society derives from it."

~Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar~

Chandra X-ray Observatory
Chandra X-ray Observatory inside the Space Shuttle payload bay.jpg
Chandra X-ray Observatory and Inertial Upper Stage sit inside the payload bay on Space ShuttleColumbia mission STS-93
General information
NSSDC ID1999-040B
Major contractorsTRW, Northrop Grumman
Launch date23 July 1999
Launched fromKennedy Space Center
Launch vehicleSpace Shuttle Columbia STS-93
Mission lengthplanned: 5 years[1]
elapsed: 12 years and 13 days
Mass4,790 kg (10,600 lb)
Orbit height
apogee 133,000 km (83,000 mi)

perigee 16,000 km (9,900 mi)
Orbit period64.2 hours
WavelengthX-ray (0.1 - 10 keV)
Diameter1.2 m (3.9 ft)
Collecting area0.04 m2 (0.43 sq ft) at 1 keV
Focal length10 m (33 ft)

The Chandra X-ray Observatory is a satellite launched on STS-93 by NASA on July 23, 1999. It was named in honor of Indian-American physicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar who is known for determining the maximum mass for white dwarfs. "Chandra" also means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit.

Chandra Observatory is the third of NASA's four Great Observatories. The first was Hubble Space Telescope; second the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, launched in 1991; and last is the Spitzer Space Telescope. Prior to successful launch, the Chandra Observatory was known as AXAF, the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility. 

AXAF was assembled and tested by TRW (now Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems) in Redondo BeachCalifornia. Chandra is sensitive to X-ray sources 100 times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope, due primarily to the high angular resolution of the Chandra mirrors.
Since the Earth's atmosphere absorbs the vast majority of X-rays, they are not detectable from Earth-based telescopes, requiring a space-based telescope to make these observations.

In 1976 the Chandra X-ray Observatory (called AXAF at the time) was proposed to NASA by Riccardo Giacconi and Harvey Tananbaum. Preliminary work began the following year at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO). In the meantime, in 1978, NASA launched the first imaging X-ray telescope, Einstein (HEAO-2), into orbit. 

Work continued on the Chandra project through the 1980's and 1990's. In 1992, to reduce costs, the spacecraft was redesigned. Four of the twelve planned mirrors were eliminated, as were two of the six scientific instruments. Chandra's planned orbit was changed to an elliptical one, reaching one third of the way to the Moon's at its farthest point. This eliminated the possibility of improvement or repair by the space shuttle but put the observatory above the Earth's radiation belts for most of its orbit.

AXAF was renamed Chandra in 1998 and launched in 1999 by the shuttle Columbia (STS-93). At 22753 kg, it was the heaviest payload ever launched by the shuttle, a consequence of the two-stage Inertial Upper Stage booster rocket system needed to transport the spacecraft to its high orbit.

Chandra has been returning data since the month after it launched. It is operated by the SAO at the Chandra X-ray Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with assistance from MIT and Northrop Grumman Space Technology. The ACIS CCDs suffered particle damage during early radiation belt passages. To prevent further damage, the instrument is now removed from the telescope's focal plane during passages.

In 2004 Chandra celebrated its fifth year of operation.

Technical description



Unlike optical telescopes which possess simple aluminized parabolic surfaces (mirrors), X-ray telescopes generally use a Wolter telescope consisting of nested cylindrical paraboloid and hyperboloid surfaces coated with iridium or gold. X-ray photons would be absorbed by normal mirror surfaces, so mirrors with a low grazing angle are necessary to reflect them. Chandra uses four pairs of nested mirrors, together with their support structure, called the High Resolution Mirror Assembly (HRMA); the mirror substrate is 2 cm-thick glass, with the reflecting surface a 33 nm iridium coating, and the diameters are 65 cm, 87 cm, 99 cm and 123 cm.

The thick substrate and particularly careful polishing allowed a very precise optical surface, which is responsible for Chandra's unmatched resolution: between 80% and 95% of the incoming X-ray energy is focused into a one-arcsecond circle. However, the thickness of the substrates limit the proportion of the aperture which is filled, leading to the low collecting area compared to XMM-Newton.

Chandra's highly elliptical orbit allows it to observe continuously for up to 55 hours of its 65 hour orbital period. At its furthest orbital point from earth, Chandra is one of the furthest from earth earth-orbiting satellites. This orbit takes it beyond the geostationary satellites and beyond the outer Van Allen belt.

With an angular resolution of 0.5 arcsecond (2.4 µrad), Chandra possesses a resolution over 1000 times better than that of the first orbiting X-ray telescope.


The Science Instrument Module (SIM) holds the two focal plane instruments, the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS) and the High Resolution Camera (HRC), moving whichever is called for into position during an observation.

ACIS consists of 10 CCD chips and provides images as well as spectral information of the object observed. It operates in the range of 0.2–10 keV. HRC has two micro-channel plate components and images over the range of 0.1–10 keV. It also has a time resolution of 16 microseconds. Both of these instruments can be used on their own or in conjunction with one of the observatory's two transmission gratings.

The transmission gratings, which swing into the optical path behind the mirrors, provide Chandra with high resolution spectroscopy. The High Energy Transmission Grating Spectrometer (HETGS) works over 0.4–10 keV and has a spectral resolution of 60–1000. The Low Energy Transmission Grating Spectrometer (LETGS) has a range of 0.09–3 keV and a resolution of 40–2000.


SN 2006gy (upper right) and its parent galaxy NGC 1260 (lower left) in false color as observed through the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

In this image of PSR B1509-58, the lowest energy X-rays that Chandra detects are red, the medium range is green, and the most energetic ones are colored blue.
The data gathered by Chandra have greatly advanced the field of X-ray astronomy.

Informal Education


1. Wikipedia

Disusun Ulang Oleh:

Arip Nurahman

Terima Kasih Semoga bermanfaat

Saturday, 10 February 2007

Mengenal Prof. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

Chandrasekhar Fisikawan Ahli Bahasa 

Subramanyan Chandrasekhar, peraih nobel Fisika tahun 1983 dilahirkan di Lahore, India pada 19 Oktober 1910. Ayahnya, Chandrasekhara Subrahmanyan Ayyar adalah pegawai di departemen keuangan India. Sementara Ibunya, Sita (neé Balakrishnan) seorang ibu rumah tangga biasa namun berintelektual tinggi (ia mampu menerjemahan karya Henrik Ibsen, “A Doll House” ke bahasa Tamil). 

Kedua orangtuanya, menurut Chandrasekhar sangat menaruh perhatian pada pendidikan anak-anaknya. Orangtuanyalah yang langsung memberikan pendidikan dasar khusus baginya di rumah hingga ia berusia 12 tahun. 

Mereka mengharapkan Chandrasekhar terkenal seperti pamannya, Chandrasekhara V. Raman, orang India pertama yang meraih hadiah Nobel fisika. Pada tahun 1918, ayahnya dipindah tugaskan ke Madras dan di sanalah keluarganya kemudian hidup menetap.

Di Madras, ia bersekolah di sekolah lanjutan Hindu dari 1922 hingga 1925. Pendidikan tingginya (1925-30) ia peroleh pertama kali di Presidency College. Kemudian ketika hendak melanjutkan studinya ke Universitas Cambridge, ibunya jatuh sakit.

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar
Born (1910-10-19)October 19, 1910
Lahore, British India
Died August 21, 1995(1995-08-21) (aged 84)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Residence United States
Citizenship India (1910–1953)
United States (1953–1995)
Fields Astrophysics
Institutions University of Chicago
University of Cambridge
Alma mater Presidency College, Madras
Trinity College, Cambridge
Doctoral advisor R.H. Fowler, Arthur Stanley Eddington
Doctoral students Donald Edward Osterbrock, Roland Winston, F. Paul Esposito, Jeremiah P. Ostriker
Known for Chandrasekhar limit
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physics (1983)
Copley Medal (1984)
National Medal of Science (1966)
Padma Vibhushan (1968)

Early life and education




Chandrasekhar was born on 19 October 1910 in Lahore, Punjab, India to a Tamil Iyer family Sitalakshmi (1891–1931) and Chandrasekhara Subrahmanya Iyer (1885–1960) who was posted in Lahore as Deputy Auditor General of the Northwestern Railways at the time of Chandrasekhar's birth. He was the eldest of their four sons and the third of their ten children. His paternal uncle was the Indian physicist and Nobel laureate C. V. Raman. C. S. Iyer. His mother was devoted to intellectual pursuits, had translated Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House into Tamil and is credited with arousing Chandra's intellectual curiosity at an early age.

Chandrasekhar was tutored at home initially through middle school and later attended the Hindu High School, Triplicane, Madras during the years 1922-25. Subsequently, he studied at Presidency College, Madras from 1925 to 1930, writing his first paper, "The Compton Scattering and the New Statistics", in 1929 upon inspiration from a lecture by Arnold Sommerfeld and obtaining his bachelor's degree, B.Sc. (Hon.), in physics in June 1930.

In July 1930, Chandrasekhar was awarded a Government of India scholarship to pursue graduate studies at the University of Cambridge, where he was admitted to Trinity College, secured by Professor R. H. Fowler with whom he communicated his first paper. During his travels to England, Chandrasekhar spent his time working out the statistical mechanics of the degenerate electron gas in white dwarf stars, providing relativistic corrections to Fowler's previous work (see Legacy below).

In his first year at Cambridge, as a research student of Fowler, Chandrasekhar spent his time in intensive study, calculating mean opacities and applying his results to the construction of an improved model for the limiting mass of the degenerate star, and was introduced to the monthly meetings of the Royal Astronomical Society, where he met Professor E. A. Milne. At the invitation of Max Born he spent the summer of 1931, his second year of post-graduate studies, at Born’s institute at Göttingen, working on opacities, atomic absorption coefficients, and model stellar photospheres. On the advice of Prof. P. A. M. Dirac, he spent his final year of graduate studies at the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Copenhagen, where he met Prof. Niels Bohr.

After receiving a bronze medal for his work on degenerate stars, in the summer of 1933, Chandrasekhar was awarded his PhD degree at Cambridge with a thesis among his four papers on rotating self-gravitating polytropes, and the following October, he was elected to a Prize Fellowship at Trinity College for the period 1933-37. During this time, he made acquaintance with Sir Arthur Eddington. Chandrasekhar married Lalitha Doraiswamy in September 1936. He had met her as a fellow student, a year junior to him, at Presidency College, Madras. In his Nobel autobiography, Chandrasekhar wrote, "Lalitha's patient understanding, support, and encouragement have been the central facts of my life."

Chandrasekhar's infamous encounter with Arthur Eddington in 1935, in which the latter publicly ridiculed Chandra's most famous (and ultimately correct) discovery (see Chandrasekhar limit) led Chandra to consider employment outside of the U.K. (Later in life, Chandra on multiple occasions, expressed the view that Eddington's behavior was in part racially motivated.)

Masa Kuliah di Universitas Cambridge

Menurut tradisi India, ia harus tinggal di rumah merawat ibunya. Namun ibunya yang ingin anaknya sukses mendesak Chandra (nama kecil Chandrasekhar) untuk tetap pergi ke Cambridge, Inggris. 

Selama perjalanan panjang dengan kapal laut ke Inggris, Chandra mencoba menggabungkan pengetahuannya tentang bintang Bajang putih (white dwarf) dengan teori relativistik spesial, ia terkejut sekali mendapatkan hasil bahwa suatu bintang bajang putih dapat terbentuk melalui evolusi bintang, asalkan massa bintang itu kurang dari 1,45 massa matahari. 

Jika bintang terlalu berat maka gaya tolak akibat larangan Pauli tidak mampu menahan gaya gravitasi bintang, akibatnya bintang akan kolaps menjadi bintang netron atau bahkan menjadi lubang hitam (black hole). 

Tiba di Universitas Cambridge, dengan beasiswa penuh dari pemerintah India, Chandrasekhar menjadi mahasiswa peneliti di bawah bimbingan Profesor R.H. Fowler. Di tengah-tengah kesibukannya, Chandrasekhar masih ingat hasil perhitungannya di kapal laut itu. 

Ia mencoba menghitung ulang dan mendiskusikannya dengan para fisikawan di Cambridge, ternyata ia mendapatkan hasil yang sama bahwa ada batas atas massa bintang agar dapat berevolusi menjadi bintang bajang putih. 

Batas atas ini kemudian terkenal dengan nama “Chandrasekhar limit”. Karena hasil penelitian mengenai evolusi bintang inilah, 50 tahun kemudian Chandrasekhar dianugerahi hadiah nobel fisika (1983). 

Chandrasekhar sempat menghabiskan tahun ketiga masa kuliahnya di institut fisika teori, Copenhagen atas saran P.A.M. Dirac (pelopor fisika kuantum) yang melihat kemampuannya yang cemerlang. Pada tahun 1933, ia memperoleh gelar Ph.D dari Cambridge. 

Hanya beberapa bulan berselang, ia bergabung dengan Trinity College hingga tahun 1937. Ketika melakukan kunjungan ke Universitas Harvard, atas undangan Dr. Harlow Shapley selama musim dingin (Januari-Maret 1936), ia ditawari posisi sebagai peneliti di Universitas Chicago dan memutuskan menerima tawaran itu pada Januari 1937. 

Saat berada di Chicago, iapun melengkapi teorinya dan mempublikasikannya dalam buku An Introduction to the Study of Stellar Structure (1939). 

Riset bagi Chandrasekhar memang merupakan kerja berkesinambungan. 

Ia mencatat ada tujuh periode riset dalam hidupnya. 

Pertama, teori tentang struktur bintang, termasuk mengenai Bajang Putih (1929-39). 

Kedua, teori gerak Brownian yang merupakan bagian dari dinamika bintang (1938-43). 

Ketiga, teori tentang transfer energi, termasuk tentang atmosfer bintang dan teori kuantum ion negatif hidrogen, juga tentang atmosfer bintang (1943-50). 

Keempat, stabilitas hidrodinamika dan hidromagnetik (1953-61). 

Kelima, keseimbangan dan stabilitas bentuk elips, bagian dari kolaborasinya dengan Norman R Lebovitz (1961-8). Keenam, teori relativitas umum dan astrofisika relativitas (1962-71). 

Terakhir, teori matematika Black Holes (1974-83). Hasil penelitiannya itu dipublikasikan dalam berbagai monograf dan jurnal terkenal untuk astrofisika dan fisika.. 

Pimpinan Universitas Chicago, Hanna Gray pernah mengungkapkan kesannya terhadap Chandrasekhar. Profesor bidang astronomi dan astrofisika ini adalah ilmuwan yang penuh dedikasi, guru dari para guru, seseorang yang senantiasa membaktikan dirinya untuk kreativitas dunia ilmiah. 

Disamping fisika, Chandrasekhar juga menyukai bahasa Inggris dan senang membaca karya-karya sastra terkenal tulisan Shakespeare. 

Orang sangat mengagumi bahasa inggrisnya yang sangat sempurna baik dalam tata bahasa maupun aksennya, sampai-sampai fisikawan terkenal Hans Bethe mengatakan: 

"Chandrasekhar was one of the great astrophysicists of our time. He was also the greatest master of the English language that I know”. 

Sumber: Prof. Yohanes Surya, Ph.D.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Teleskop Luar Angkasa Hubble VIII


Equipment failure

A WFPC2 image of a small region of theTarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud
Past servicing missions have exchanged old instruments for new ones, both avoiding failure and making possible new types of science. Without servicing missions, all of the instruments will eventually fail. In August 2004, the power system of the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) failed, rendering the instrument inoperable. The electronics had originally been fully redundant, but the first set of electronics failed in May 2001.[131] This power supply was fixed during servicing mission 4 in May 2009. Similarly, the main camera (the ACS) primary electronics failed in June 2006, and the power supply for the backup electronics failed on January 27, 2007.[132] Only the instrument's Solar Blind Channel (SBC) was operable using the side-1 electronics. A new power supply for the wide angle channel was added during SM 4, but quick tests revealed this did not help the high resolution channel.[133]As of late May 2009, tests of both repaired instruments are still ongoing.
HST uses gyroscopes to stabilize itself in orbit and point accurately and steadily at astronomical targets. Normally, three gyroscopes are required for operation; observations are still possible with two, but the area of sky that can be viewed would be somewhat restricted, and observations requiring very accurate pointing are more difficult.[134] There are further contingency plans for science with just one gyro,[135] but if all gyros fail, continued scientific observations will not be possible. In 2005, it was decided to switch to two-gyroscope mode for regular telescope operations as a means of extending the lifetime of the mission. The switch to this mode was made in August 2005, leaving Hubble with two gyroscopes in use, two on backup, and two inoperable.[136] One more gyro failed in 2007.[137] By the time of the final repair mission, during which all six gyros were replaced (with two new pairs and one refurbished pair), only three gyros were still working. Engineers are confident that they have identified the root causes of the gyro failures, and the new models should be much more reliable.[138]
In addition to predicted gyroscope failure, Hubble eventually required a change of nickel hydrogen batteries. A robotic servicing mission including this would be tricky, as it requires many operations, and a failure in any might result in irreparable damage to Hubble. Alternatively, the observatory was designed so that during shuttle servicing missions it would receive power from a connection to the space shuttle, and this capability could have been utilized by adding an external power source (an additional battery) rather than changing the internal ones.[139] In the end, however, the batteries were simply replaced during service mission 4.

Orbital decay

Hubble orbits the Earth in the extremely tenuous upper atmosphere, and over time its orbit decays due to drag. If it is not re-boosted by a shuttle or other means, it will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere sometime between 2019 and 2032, with the exact date depending on how active the Sun is and its impact on the upper atmosphere. The state of Hubble's gyros also affects the re-entry date, as a controllable telescope can be oriented to minimize atmospheric drag. Not all of the telescope would burn up on re-entry. Parts of the main mirror and its support structure would probably survive, leaving the potential for damage or even human fatalities (estimated at up to a 1 in 700 chance of human fatality for a completely uncontrolled re-entry).[140] With the success of STS-125, the natural re-entry date range has been extended further as the mission replaced its gyroscopes, even though Hubble was not re-boosted to a higher orbit.
NASA's original plan for safely de-orbiting Hubble was to retrieve it using a space shuttle. The Hubble telescope would then have most likely been displayed in the Smithsonian Institution. This is no longer considered practical because of the costs of a shuttle flight, the mandate to retire the space shuttles years prior, and the risk to a shuttle's crew. Instead NASA looked at adding an external propulsion module to allow controlled re-entry.[141] The final decision was not to attach a de-orbit module on STS-125, but to add a grapple fixture so a robotic mission could more easily attach such a module later.[142]

Debate over final servicing mission

Columbia was originally scheduled to visit Hubble again in February 2005. The tasks of this servicing mission would have included replacing a fine guidance sensor and two broken gyroscopes, placing protective "blankets" on top of torn insulation, replacing the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 with a new Wide Field Camera 3 and installing the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS). However, then-NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe decided that, in order to prevent a repeat of the Columbia accident, all future shuttles must be able to reach the 'safe-haven' of the International Space Station (ISS) should an in-flight problem develop that would preclude the shuttle from landing safely. The shuttle is incapable of reaching both the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station during the same mission, and so future manned service missions were canceled.[143]
This decision was assailed by numerous astronomers, who felt that Hubble was valuable enough to merit the human risk. HST's successor, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), will not be ready until well after the 2010 scheduled retirement of the space shuttle. While Hubble can image in the ultraviolet and visible wavelengths, JWST is limited to the infrared. The break in space-observing capabilities between the decommissioning of Hubble and the commissioning of a successor is of major concern to many astronomers, given the great scientific impact of HST taken as a whole.[144] The consideration that the JWST will not be located in low Earth orbit, and therefore cannot be easily repaired in the event of an early failure, only makes these concerns more acute. Nor can JWST's instruments be easily upgraded. On the other hand, many astronomers felt strongly that the servicing of Hubble should not take place if the costs of the servicing come from the JWST budget.
In January 2004, O'Keefe said he would review his decision to cancel the final shuttle servicing mission to HST due to public outcry and requests from Congress for NASA to look for a way to save it. On 13 July 2004 an official panel from the National Academy of Sciencesmade the recommendation that the HST should be preserved despite the apparent risks. Their report urged "NASA should take no actions that would preclude a space shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope". In August 2004, O'Keefe requested the Goddard Space Flight Center to prepare a detailed proposal for a robotic service mission. These plans were later canceled, the robotic mission being described as "not feasible".[145] In late 2004, several Congressional members, led by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), held public hearings and carried on a fight with much public support (including thousands of letters from school children across the country) to get the Bush Administration and NASA to reconsider the decision to drop plans for a Hubble rescue mission.[146]
The arrival in April 2005 of the new NASA Administrator, Michael D. Griffin, changed the status of the proposed shuttle rescue mission. At the time, Griffin stated he would reconsider the possibility of a manned servicing mission. Soon after his appointment, he authorized Goddard Space Flight Center to proceed with preparations for a manned Hubble maintenance flight, saying he would make the final decision on this flight after the next two shuttle missions. In October 2006 Griffin gave the final go-ahead for the mission. The 11-daySTS-125 mission by Atlantis was scheduled for launch in October 2008.[147][148] However, the main data-handling unit failed in late September 2008, halting all reporting of scientific data. This unit has a backup, and on October 25, 2008 Hubble was successfully rebooted and was reported to be functioning normally.[149] However, since a failure in the backup unit would now leave the HST helpless, the service mission was postponed to allow astronauts to repair this problem. This mission got underway on May 11, 2009[150] and completed all the long planned replacements as well as additional repairs, including replacing the main data-handling unit.

Planned successors

Several space telescopes are claimed to be successors to Hubble, and some ground based astronomy lays claim to higher optical achievements. None of the near-term space-based telescopes will duplicate Hubble's wavelength coverage (near ultra-violet to near infrared wavelength), instead concentrating on the farther infrared bands. These bands are preferred for studying high Z and low temperature objects, but cannot be studied from the ground, and cannot be retrofitted to the Hubble since it lacks the requisite cooled optics. None of the space-based successors are designed to be serviced on orbit. In contrast, ground based astronomy includes roughly the same wavelengths as Hubble, is catching up in terms of resolution (via adaptive optics), has much larger light gathering power, and is easily upgraded. However, it cannot yet match the Hubble's excellent resolution over a wide field of view, and the very dark background of space.

JWST plans to detect stars in the early Universe approximately 280 million years older than stars HST now detects.
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is a planned infrared space observatory, and lays claim to being a planned successor of Hubble.[151] The main scientific goal is to observe the most distant objects in the universe, beyond the reach of existing instruments. JWST will be able to detect stars in the early Universe approximately 280 million years older than stars HST now detects.[152][153]
JWST is a NASA-led international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agencyand the Canadian Space Agency. Formerly called the Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST), it was renamed after NASA's second administrator, James E. Webb, in 2002. The telescope's launch is planned for no earlier than June 2014. It will be launched on an Ariane 5rocket.[154]
Another similar effort is the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory, launched on May 14, 2009. Like JWST, Herschel has a mirror substantially larger than Hubble's, but observes only in the far-infrared.
Much further out is the Advanced Technology Large-Aperture Space Telescope (AT-LAST)[155] is a proposed 8 to 16-meter (320 to 640-inch) optical space telescope that if approved, built, and launched (using the planned Space Launch System), would be a true replacement and successor for the Hubble Space Telescope (HST); with the ability to observe and photograph astronomical objects in the opticalultraviolet, and Infrared wavelengths, but with substantially better resolution than Hubble.
Selected space telescopes & instruments[156]
GALEX20030.135-0.280 μm0.5 m
Spitzer20033-180 μm0.85 m
Hubble STIS19970.115-1.03 μm2.4 m
Hubble WFC320090.2-1.7 μm2.4 m
Herschel200960-672 μm3.5 m
JWSTPlanned0.6-10 μm6.5 m
Existing ground based telescopes, and various proposed Extremely Large Telescopes, certainly exceed the HST in terms of sheer light gathering power, due to their much larger mirrors. In some cases, they may also be able to match or beat Hubble in resolution by using adaptive optics (AO). However, AO on large ground-based reflectors will not make Hubble and other space telescopes obsolete. Most AO systems sharpen the view over a very narrow field – Lucky Cam, for example, produces crisp images just 10" to 20" wide, whereas Hubble's cameras are super sharp across a 2½' (150") field. Furthermore, space telescopes can study the heavens across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, most of which is blocked by Earth's atmosphere. Finally, the background sky is darker in space than on the ground, because air absorbs solar energy during the day and then releases it at night, producing a faint—but nevertheless discernible—airglow that washes out faint, low-contrast astronomical objects.[157]

See also