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Satellites – Astronomy Satellites
An astronomy satellite is basically a really big telescope floating in space. Because it is in orbit above the Earth, the satellite’s vision is not clouded by the gases that make up the Earth’s atmosphere, and its infrared imaging equipment is not confused by the heat of the Earth. Astronomy satellites, therefore, can “see” into space up to ten times better than a telescope of similar strength on Earth. Can you guess what kinds of things an astronomy satellite would be looking at?
These are some pictures taken by the astronomy satellite Hubble of stellar phenomena like supernovas, distant galaxies, black holes, and quasars:
By analyzing the electromagnetic spectrum, the different wavelengths of light (for example, ultraviolet, x-ray, visible spectrum, microwaves, and gamma rays) make a picture of something far away in space. So, the pictures that come from Hubble and other astronomy satellites are not photographs from a regular camera, but images created from the analysis of electromagnetic waves – the waves that make up the light spectrum.
Astronomy satellites have many different applications:
- they can be used to make star maps
- they can be used to study mysterious phenomena such as black holes and quasars
- they can be used to take pictures of the planets in the solar system
- they can be used to make maps of different planetary surfaces
Astronomy satellites are different from space exploration satellites because they collect their data from Earth orbit. Space exploration satellites are really probes that are sent out into deep space.
The Hubble Space Telescope is an example of an astronomy satellite. Click here to learn more about Hubble.
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Last updated on: 8 August 1997.