Space telescope

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Image of Hubble , one of the most famous space telescopes

A space telescope is a telescope that is located outside of the earth's disturbing atmosphere in space . The advantages of space for telescopes are the lack of air turbulence and access to areas of electromagnetic radiation such as gamma rays , X-rays and infrared rays that are swallowed up by the atmosphere . In addition, space enables very long baselines, for example in radio interferometry (see e.g. HALCA ) or for searching for gravitational waves (see LISA ).

Most of the time, space telescopes are in orbit around the earth, but future telescopes will increasingly be positioned at the Lagrangian points of the earth's orbit. SOHO is already at the inner Lagrangian point L1, from which the sun can be observed continuously. The probe for researching the cosmic background radiation WMAP circled around the outer Lagrangian point L2, at which the simultaneous shielding of interfering radiation from earth and sun is easier. Another possibility is orbits around the sun like the Spitzer Space Telescope .

List of space telescopes (excerpt)

Surname begin The End Area operator aims
Radio Astronomy Explorer A / B 1968/1973 1977
Uhuru (SAS-1) 1970 1973 roentgen NASA
Orbiting Astronomical Observatory 3 (Copernicus) 1972 1981 UV , X-ray NASA
COS-B 1975 1982 gamma ESA
International Ultraviolet Explorer 1978 1996 UV NASA , ESA , SERC
Infrared Astronomical Satellite 1983 1983 IR
Astron 1983 1989 UV, X-ray USSR / France
EXOSAT 1983 1986 roentgen ESA
ASTRO-C (Ginga) 1987 1991 roentgen ISAS
COBE 1989 1993 Microwaves NASA Measurement of the background radiation
Hipparcos 1989 1993 Visible light ESA Survey to create a star catalog
ROSAT 1990 1999 roentgen DLR
Hubble Space Telescope 1990 Visible light, UV, IR NASA , ESA
Compton Gamma Ray Observatory 1991 2000 gamma NASA
Yohkoh 1991 2001 roentgen ISAS
Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer 1992 2001 EUV NASA
ASTRO-D (Asca) 1993 2000 roentgen ISAS
Infrared Space Observatory 1995 1998 IR ESA
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory 1995 Visible light, UV NASA , ESA
RXTE 1995 2012 roentgen NASA
BeppoSAX 1996 2002 roentgen ASI
Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer 1999 2007 UV NASA
Chandra 1999 roentgen NASA
XMM Newtons 1999 roentgen ESA
WMAP 2001 2010 Microwaves NASA Measurement of the background radiation
integral 2002 gamma ESA
Galaxy Evolution Explorer 2003 2013 UV NASA
Sharpener 2003 2020 IR NASA
Swift 2004 gamma NASA
ASTRO-E (Suzaku) 2005 roentgen JAXA
ASTRO-F (Akari) 2006 2011 IR JAXA
COROT (space telescope) 2006 2013 Visible light CNES / ESA search for exoplanets using the transit method
AGILE 2007 gamma ASI
Fermi 2008 gamma NASA
Kepler 2009 2013 Visible light, IR NASA search for exoplanets using the transit method
Planck 2009 2013 Microwaves ESA Measurement of the background radiation
Herschel 2009 2012 for HFI IR ESA
WISE 2009 2011 IR NASA Find dark objects like asteroids and brown dwarfs near the solar system
RadioAstron (Spectral R) 2011 Microwaves Astronomical Center of the Lebedev Institute of Physics , Moscow
NuSTAR 2012 roentgen NASA
NEOSSat 2013 Visible light CSA
Gaia 2013 Visible light ESA Survey to create a star catalog
ASTRO-H (Hitomi) 2016 roentgen JAXA , NASA , ESA , CSA
Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope ( HXMT ) 2017 roentgen CNSA
Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) 2018 NASA Search for exoplanets using the transit method
Spectral RG 2019 roentgen ESA , Roscosmos
Cheops 2019 ESA With the help of the transit method, size, mass and possible atmospheres of already known exoplanets (to determine bright, but less active stars) or to determine more precisely
James Webb Space Telescope 2021 (planned) IR NASA , ESA , CSA
Euclid 2022 (planned)Template: future / in 2 years Visible light, near IR ESA
Space telescopes and their areas of application

Private projects

Around 2012, several private space companies and operators announced the launch and use of space telescopes. Planetary Resources planned to build and deploy several Arkyd-100 Leo Space Telescope telescopes to detect asteroids and other objects that may be suitable for future asteroid mining . The B612 Foundation planned the launch of an IR space telescope Sentinel for 2017, which should be used for mapping and early detection of near-earth objects . The German project Public Telescope announced the start of a space telescope for the ultraviolet and visible spectral range from 2019, which is to be used not only for science but also by amateur astronomy and education. The International Lunar Observatory Association announced an observatory in the south polar region of the moon for 2015 . As of April 2020, only the latter of these projects is still active, but without a specific start date.

See also


  • Reinhard E. Schielicke: Astronomy with large telescopes from ground and space. Wiley-VCH, Weinheim 2002, ISBN 3-527-40404-X
  • David Leverington: New cosmic horizons - space astronomy from the V2 to the Hubble Space Telescope. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 2000, ISBN 0-521-65137-9
  • Zdeněk Kopal: Telescopes in space. Faber & Faber, London 1968
  • Jingquan Cheng: Space Telescope Projects and their Development , pp. 309ff. in: The principles of astronomical telescope design. Springer, New York 2009, ISBN 978-0-387-88790-6 .
  • Neil English: Space Telescopes - Capturing the Rays of the Electromagnetic Spectrum. Springer, Cham 2017, ISBN 978-3-319-27812-4 .

Web links

Wiktionary: space telescope  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. RadioAstron , Lebedev Institute for Physics , accessed on August 30, 2011.
  2. Sentinel: private space telescope for asteroid search,
  3. Asteroid Mining Startup Planetary Resources Teams With Virgin Galactic ,
  4. Leo Space Telescope ( May 1, 2012 memento on the Internet Archive ),, accessed July 12, 2012.
  5. B612 Sentinel Mission ( Memento from January 16, 2013 in the Internet Archive ),
  6. ^ Space telescope for everyone ,
  7. Kwame Opam: Moon Express unveils lunar lander design with planned 2015 launch date. In: The Verge. December 8, 2013, accessed May 1, 2019 .