Twenty years ago this month, the NASA space shuttle Discovery launched from Florida carrying what would become one of the most iconic instruments in astronomy: the Hubble Space Telescope.
Whilst Hubble may be responsible for catching peoples attention over the past 20 years with some staggering images as seen on http://www.hubblesite.org We came across this story about one of Hubble’s poorer cousins and felt it worthy of sharing.
“By an apple orchard just off Highway 97 in Brewster, Wash, sits one of the Hubble Space Telescope’s ignored cousins, an 82-foot dish painted all white that weighs in at 240 tons.
It is part of a telescope system that produces images that are hundreds of times more detailed than what the Hubble can do.
On its 20th birthday, the Hubble is being honored for the breathtaking cosmic images it has produced. Meanwhile, the ignored cousins— 10 in all, spread from the Caribbean to Brewster to Hawaii, placed in locations away from big-city pollution, and united by computers— are struggling for financing.
Ever heard of the VLBA? Probably not, unless you’re an astronomy professor or hobbyist. It stands for Very Long Baseline Array.
But this system is so good that it has the ability to see fine detail equivalent to standing in New York City and reading a newspaper in Los Angeles. It peers through clouds and dust into other galaxies, into regions where planets are being formed. It has produced images that go to the very beginnings of the universe, and helped discover a black hole in the center of the Milky Way.”