Question Sheet: Hubble Lives On


Before reading:

  1. Constructing a telescope in space is much harder — and costs much more —

    than building one on Earth. Why would scientists go through the extra trouble of

    constructing some telescopes in space (what would the benefits be)?

  2. What extra problems will scientists have when building, servicing and

    eventually shutting down space telescopes?

During reading:

  1. How old is the Hubble telescope?
  2. Name three special things this telescope has captured in its images and

    taught ground-based astronomers.

  3. How much better is the resolution of Hubble’s images, compared to those from

    ground-based telescopes?

  4. What contributes to that better resolution? (Hint: What’s in the sky between

    the ground and Hubble?)

  5. How many days did it take to capture the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image of

    the universe shortly after the Big Bang? (Hint: There are 60 seconds in a

    minute, then 60 minutes in an hour, then 24 hours in a day.)

  6. Why does Hubble imagery have value beyond producing pretty pictures?
  7. When is the next servicing mission planned for the telescope, and once

    fixed, how long is the telescope expected to continue operating?

After reading:

  1. If it costs more to build and operate telescopes in space, but they yield

    better data, should we just shut down Earth-based telescopes and use the money

    from them for space-based astronomy? Explain your reasoning.

  2. How important do you think this observational astronomy is to science — to

    understanding the creation and early developments in the universe?

  3. If you could guide the Hubble Space Telescope to answer a question or view

    something in our universe, what would it be — and why?

  4. Much groundbreaking science today takes place at the extremes — the most

    distant reaches of our universe, the greatest depths of the ocean, the tiniest

    scales occurring within atoms or the deepest recesses of our DNA. If you had a

    chance to conduct science in one of these venues, which would you choose?

    Explain your choice.


  1. Because of the high expense of conducting space science, many countries

    borrow (or lease) time on instruments in another country — or do cooperative

    research with foreign scientists. Explain at least two reasons why this is good

    — or not.

  2. Identify the costs of the space-shuttle flights, space-station construction,

    and Hubble telescope. How does the cost compare to developing a new medicine,

    building a new submarine or designing a new tropical resort? Compared to the

    costs of those other ventures, how worthwhile do you believe the investments in

    space science are? Explain your reasoning.

  3. Astronomers and space scientists may spend 10 years or more in university

    studies training to explore the universe — about as long as a heart doctor or

    another highly specialized physician. On a day-to-day basis, who does more

    similar work — or more varied tasks? Who has the potential to learn more?

    Assuming they would earn the same amount of money, which profession would you

    prefer to be? Explain your decision.


  • Research and hold a classroom debate on why investments in space science are

    a good use of money — even in today’s tight economy.

  • Write at least three paragraphs on what you would like to study if you had

    control of the Hubble Space Telescope. Explain your choices.

  • List at least 30 adjectives and 30 nouns from the Hubble story, then use

    each at least once in some poem about the exploration of our cosmos.