Hubble is over 30 years old at this point, but the aging space telescope still has plenty of years left of service, if NASA is willing to save it. Hubble’s orbit is falling steadily, despite it no longer being maintained. As such, Hubble’s orbit has fallen so low that satellites are starting to interfere with its observations, a problem we need to remedy as soon as possible.
Hubble’s slow descent toward Earth is not a new phenomenon. In the past, the space telescope relied on spacecraft to come by, service it, provide upgrades, and even help shift its orbit back up to a higher orbiting track. Hubble’s orbit is falling faster than ever because it hasn’t received much assistance in the past.
Normally this wouldn’t be an issue, especially if the telescope was already set to be decommissioned and no longer used. Hubble continues to observe our universe and, when combined with James Webb’s data, provides an extraordinary picture of space beyond our planet. The quality of these observations is declining and it will only get worse if Hubble’s orbit is not fixed.
SpaceX and NASA have been talking about ways to restore Hubble back to a higher orbit, but without any form of action in the past several months, the space telescope’s orbiting track is just getting lower and lower. But the issue is bigger than just putting Hubble higher up in orbit. This is a sign of how overcrowded Earth’s orbit with satellites. It was also something that scientists discussed in an recent . paper.
That’s another problem altogether, as several ground-based telescopes are set to come online in the next several years. But, if we continue to throw mega constellations into orbit, it could make all that hardware a waste of space, as they won’t be able to observe the universe without catching photos of passing satellites.
This, again, continues to highlight the problems surrounding Earth, especially when it comes to space junk and satellite coverage. Although Hubble could not be guaranteed to stop satellites from passing through, it might help in some way.
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