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How Far has the Hubble Traveled?

Week of January 27, 1997
Here's a fun one: how far has the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) traveled since launch?

image of HST

HST was placed in orbit by the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery on April 25, 1990. Since then, it has orbited the Earth at a velocity of 30,000 kilometers an hour, going once around the Earth every 90 minutes or so.

That adds up! 30,000 km/hr is about 700,000 kilometers in a day, 5 million kilometers a week, 260 million or so a year. On Monday, January 27, 1997, it will have been in orbit for 2469 days. Since launch it has traveled about 1.8 billion kilometers, or farther than the distance of the Earth to Saturn!

Of course, since HST orbits the Earth, it really hasn't gone anywhere at all. But it has taken our minds to the very edge of the observable Universe, and I think that's an ample trade.

For more info about the Hubble Space Telescope, visit The Space Telescope Science Institute's web page! They have an amazing amount of information about HST there, including the latest pictures from HST.

©2008 Phil Plait. All Rights Reserved.

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