This is the VOA Special English Technology Report.
The Hubble Space Telescope continues to make valuable discoveries after more
than twenty years in orbit around Earth.
Hubble recently showed a fourth moon orbiting Pluto. Astronomers temporarily
named it P4. The moon is the smallest to be discovered around the icy dwarf
Astronomers estimate that the moon is from thirteen to thirty-four kilometers
across. They first saw it in a Hubble photo taken on June twenty-eighth.
The American space agency NASA launched the Hubble Space Telescope in
nineteen ninety. Reaching that day took years of work. Ed Weiler is NASA’s chief
astronomer. Mr. Weiler has worked closely with the Hubble program since nineteen
ED WEILER: “The Hubble, when it was launched, represented an increase in
capability of other telescopes on the ground by a factor of ten. The last time
in human history in astronomy that we leaped a factor of ten, in one step, was
when Galileo stopped using his eye and put the first telescope to his eye.”
Nancy Grace Roman, 86, was NASA's first chief of
astronomy and is considered the mother of the Hubble Space Telescope
NASA's first chief of astronomy was Nancy Grace Roman. Ms. Roman joined NASA
in nineteen fifty-nine. She led the effort that resulted in the creation of the
Hubble Space Telescope.
NANCY GRACE ROMAN: “Astronomers had been wanting to get observations from
above the atmosphere for a long time. Looking through the atmosphere is somewhat
like looking through a piece of old, stained glass. The glass has defects in it,
so the image is blurred from that."
The Hubble telescope orbits about five hundred fifty kilometers above Earth.
Ms. Roman says she still remembers the first images that it captured.
NANCY GRACE ROMAN: “I think the image that to me was most striking was the
center of a globular cluster. You could see each star individually, and see
their color, and it was just a fantastic sight.”
The Hubble Space Telescope has helped expand our knowledge of the universe.
It helped scientists estimate that the universe began about fourteen billion
years ago. Earlier estimates had placed it between ten and twenty billion years
Ed Weiler says the Hubble telescope also confirmed the existence of black
holes. These are extremely dense masses believed to exist at the center of most
galaxies. Their gravitational pull is so strong, they absorb light.
ED WEILER: “Black holes were science fiction. 'Star Trek,' 'Star Wars.' 'Black
holes -- nice theory but nobody believes in them, right?' Hubble proved they
The Hubble Space Telescope completed its one millionth scientific observation
in July. NASA is building a new space telescope to look even deeper into the
beginnings of the universe.
And that’s the VOA Special English Technology Report, written by June Simms
and Julie Taboh. You can watch a video about the Hubble Space Telescope at
voaspecialenglish.com. I’m Steve Ember.