Optical EngineeringExperience with the Hubble Space Telescope: 20 years of an archetype
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The Hubble Space Telescope's mission is summarized, with special emphasis placed on the Space Telescope Science Institute's unique experience with Hubble's behavior as an astronomical telescope in the environment of low earth orbit for over two decades. Historical context and background are given, and the project's early scientific expectations are described. A general overview of the spacecraft is followed by a more detailed look at the optical design, both as intended and as built. Basic characteristics of the complete complement of science instruments are also summarized. Experience with the telescope on-orbit is reviewed, starting with the major initial problems, solutions, human servicing missions, and the associated expansion of the observatory's capabilities over this time. Specific attention is then given to understanding Hubble's optical quality and pointing/jitter performance, two fundamental characteristics of a telescope. Experience with-and the important mitigation of-radiation damage and contamination is also related. Beyond the telescope itself, the advances in data reduction, calibration, and observing techniques are briefly discussed, as well as the subsequent emergence of highly accessible high-level archival science products. Hubble's scientific impact concludes the discussion.