Galaxy Story

Tales of the Universe

Page 2 of 5

But a problem still remains for telescopes on Earth: our atmosphere absorbs part of the energy given out by stars and other objects in space. It also changes their images as seen from the ground in the same way as objects seem to have funny shapes when looking at them through a crystal glass. This is why astronomers decided to send telescopes to space, so that the Earth's atmosphere wouldn't be in the way.

A telescope in space must include instruments that record the measurements, computers and transmitters to send the information back to Earth. It also requires a shield to protect against possible hits from meteorites and other small particles in space, and solar panels that power the instruments. This whole combination is called a satellite.

Click on the thumbnails below to investigate how Earth's different atmospheric factors affect the quality of telescope images:

Atmosphere Effects - Particulates
Atmosphere Effects - Heat
Atmosphere Effects - Light Pollution


ESA Science Home page