May 11, 2009 / 6:09 PM / 11 years ago

Facts about the Hubble Space Telescope

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) - The space shuttle Atlantis blasted off on Monday on a 11-day mission to the Hubble Space Telescope, the last scheduled repair visit before the space shuttle fleet is retired.

Here are some facts about the Hubble Space Telescope:

* The telescope was launched into Earth’s orbit in April 1990. It travels about 5 miles per second and each orbit takes 96 minutes.

* Hubble orbits 350 miles above Earth; on August 11, 2008, it made its 100,000th orbit. Generates enough data to fill 18 DVDs every week. Its discoveries have been the basis of 35,000 published research papers.

* It is 43.5 feet long, has a maximum diameter of 14 feet and weighs 26,056 pounds (11,820 kg). After Atlantis’ visit, it will weigh 26,905 pounds (12,200 kg).

* The farthest objects it has seen are galaxies about 13 billion light years away. The universe is 13.7 billion years old.

* Among its most important discoveries: determining that the universe’s rate of expansion is speeding up; that the structures for making solar systems are common in galaxies; detecting the first organic molecule in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star.

Reporting by Irene Klotz and Jim Loney; Editing by Bill Trott

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