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The Hubble Space telescope

The Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its 20th anniversary, a few

weeks ago, on Saturday. NASA had released a new photograph
from the orbiting observatory of a cosmic pillar of gas and dust
piled high in the Carina Nebula galaxy.

Hubble, named after the astronomer Edwin P Hubble (1889—

1953), was launched into low—Earth orbit on April 24, 1990.

To date, Hubble has looked at over 30,000 celestial objects and

amassed over a half million pictures in its archive.

Despite its storied past, Hubble had looked set for the junk heap
until the space shuttle Atlantis’ repair mission that sought to extend
the telescope’s life until at least 2014, and possibly beyond.



The Sun is a huge, glowing ball at the center of our solar

system. The sun provides light, heat, and other energy to
Earth. The sun is made up entirely of gas. Most of it is a type
of gas that is sensitive to magnetism. This sensitivity makes
this type of gas so special that scientists sometimes give it a
special name: plasma. Nine planets and their moons, tens of
thousands of asteroids, and trillions of comets revolve
around the sun. The sun and all these objects are in the
solar system.

Moon is Earth's only natural satellite and the only

astronomical body other than Earth ever visited by human
beings. The moon is the brightest object in the night
sky but gives off no light of its own. Instead, it reflects light
from the sun. Like Earth and the rest of the solar system, the
moon is about 4.6 billion years old.


Mars is the fourth planet from the sun. The planet is one of
Earth's "next-door neighbors" in space. Mars is named for
the ancient Roman god of war. The Romans copied the
Greeks in naming the planet for a war god; the Greeks called
the planet Ares (AIR eez). The Romans and Greeks
associated the planet with war because its color resembles
the color of blood. Viewed from Earth, Mars is a bright
reddish-orange. It owes its color to iron-rich minerals in its
soil. This color is also similar to the color of rust, which is
composed of iron and oxygen.


Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. Its diameter

is 88,846 miles, more than 11 times that of Earth, and about
one-tenth that of the sun. It would take more than 1,000
Earths to fill up the volume of the giant planet. When viewed
from Earth, Jupiter appears brighter than most stars. It is
usually the second brightest planet - after Venus. Jupiter is
the fifth planet from the sun. Its mean (average) distance
from the sun is about 483,780,000 miles.

Saturn is the second largest planet. Only Jupiter is larger.

Saturn has seven thin, flat rings around it. The rings consist
of numerous narrow ringlets, which are made up of ice
particles that travel around the planet. The gleaming rings
make Saturn one of the most beautiful objects in the solar
system. Jupiter, Neptune, and Uranus are the only other
planets known to have rings. Their rings are much fainter
than those around Saturn.


Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun. Only Neptune

and Pluto are farther away. Uranus is the farthest planet that
can be seen without a telescope. Its average distance from
the sun is about 1,784,860,000 miles, a distance that takes
light about 2 hours 40 minutes to travel. Uranus is a giant
ball of gas and liquid. Its diameter at the equator is 31,763
miles (51,118 kilometers), over four times that of Earth.


Neptune is one of the two planets that cannot be seen

without a telescope. The other is Pluto. Neptune is about 30
times as far from the sun as is Earth. Pluto is the only planet
farther from the sun than Neptune. But every 248 years
Pluto moves inside Neptune's orbit for about a 20-year
period, during which it is closer to the sun than Neptune.
Pluto last crossed Neptune's orbit on Jan. 23, 1979, and
remained within it until Feb. 11, 1999.