Discover Space Telescopes



9 Questions

What is the main advantage of space telescopes over ground-based observatories?

What is the main disadvantage of space telescopes compared to ground-based telescopes?

Which type of space telescope maps the entire sky?

Which type of astronomy is nearly impossible to do from Earth?

What is the significance of the Great Observatory Technology Maturation Program (GOMAP)?

Which organizations are planning future space observatories?

What is the main reason that X-ray astronomy is important?

What is the future availability of space telescopes dependent on?

What were the first two operational space telescopes?


Overview of Space Telescopes

  • Space telescopes are telescopes used to observe astronomical objects from outer space.
  • The first operational space telescopes were the American Orbiting Astronomical Observatory, OAO-2 launched in 1968, and the Soviet Orion 1 ultraviolet telescope aboard space station Salyut 1 in 1971.
  • Space telescopes are divided into two types: satellites which map the entire sky (astronomical survey), and satellites which focus on selected astronomical objects or parts of the sky and beyond.
  • They avoid the filtering and distortion (scintillation) of electromagnetic radiation which they observe, and avoid light pollution which ground-based observatories encounter.
  • Space-based astronomy is more important for frequency ranges that are outside the optical window and the radio window, the only two wavelength ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum that are not severely attenuated by the atmosphere.
  • X-ray astronomy is nearly impossible when done from Earth, and has reached its current importance in astronomy only due to orbiting X-ray telescopes such as the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the XMM-Newton observatory.
  • Space telescopes are much more expensive to build than ground-based telescopes and are extremely difficult to maintain.
  • The future availability of space telescopes and observatories depends on timely and sufficient funding.
  • As of 2022, many space observatories have already completed their missions, while others continue operating on extended time.
  • NASA, JAXA, and CNSA are planning future space observatories.
  • On 16 January 2023, NASA announced preliminary considerations of several future space telescope programs, including the Great Observatory Technology Maturation Program (GOMAP), Habitable Worlds Observatory, and New Great Observatories.
  • A list of space telescopes is available for reference.


Test your knowledge on space telescopes with this informative quiz! Discover the history, types, advantages, and challenges of space telescopes, as well as their contribution to the field of astronomy. From the first operational space telescopes to the latest planned missions, this quiz covers it all. See how much you know about this fascinating topic and learn something new along the way!

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