Stuff that Weighs More than Me: Mirrors on the Hubble Telescope

Well, all the selfies on the Fat and Proud project has got me thinking about how cell phones are modern mirrors, so naturally I thought more about mirrors and which ones might weigh more than me.  I’m also working on a space-themed project for a client and so naturally, the Hubble Telescope popped into my mind.  (Yup, my scary brain process, let me show you it…) Anywho, besides being one incredibly bad @ssed piece of scientific equipment, the Hubble Telescope is one big mama jamma.  Named the first space-based telescope, the Hubble helped confirm that the universe is expanding–a key tenet of the Big Bang Theory.  (FYI Megan and Sarah, this is not just an awesome television show!)

The Hubble Telescope was launched into space from the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990.  It circles the earth once every 97 minutes at a low-earth orbit of 307 nautical miles.  And it has taken some gorgeous pictures like these:

saturn jupiter

Besides being incredibly huge and powerful, the giant mirrors in the Hubble are incredibly accurate. In fact, Hubble’s two mirrors were ground so that they do not deviate from a perfect curve by more than 1/800,000th of an inch. To give you as sense of what that means, If Hubble’s primary mirror were scaled up to the diameter of the Earth, the biggest bump would be only six inches tall. Here’s some additional stats:

Mirrors:

Primary Mirror Diameter: 94.5 in (2.4 m)
Primary Mirror Weight: 1,825 lb (828 kg)
Secondary Mirror Diameter: 12 in (0.3 m)
Secondary Mirror Weight: 27.4 lb (12.3 kg)

Telescope:

Length: 43.5 ft (13.2 m)
Weight: 24,500 lb (11,110 kg)
Maximum Diameter: 14 ft (4.2 m)

Conclusion: The Hubble Telescope mirrors weigh more than me!

Love,

The Fat Chick

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