The Hubble Space Telescope has produced the most stunning images of the cosmos humanity has ever seen. It has transformed our understanding of the universe around us, revealing new information about its age and evolution, the life cycle of stars, and the very existence of black holes, among other startling discoveries. But it took an amazing amount of work and perseverance to get the first space telescope up and running. The Universe in a Mirror tells the story of this telescope and the visionaries responsible for its extraordinary accomplishments.
Robert Zimmerman takes readers behind the scenes of one of the most ambitious scientific instruments ever sent into space. After World War II, astronomer Lyman Spitzer and a handful of scientists waged a fifty-year struggle to build the first space telescope capable of seeing beyond Earth's atmospheric veil. Zimmerman shows how many of the telescope's advocates sacrificed careers and family to get it launched, and how others devoted their lives to Hubble only to have their hopes and reputations shattered when its mirror was found to be flawed. This is the story of an idea that would not die--and of the dauntless human spirit. Illustrated with striking color images, The Universe in a Mirror describes the heated battles between scientists and bureaucrats, the perseverance of astronauts to repair and maintain the telescope, and much more. Hubble, and the men and women behind it, opened a rare window onto the universe, dazzling humanity with sights never before seen.
This book tells their remarkable story. A new afterword updates the reader on the May 2009 Hubble service mission and looks to the future of astronomy, including the prospect of a new space telescope to replace Hubble.
"The Universe in a Mirror . . . [is] a breezy behind-the-scenes account by Robert Zimmerman, a freelance writer and space historian. . . . Mr. Zimmerman has brought the story up to the present, and it's a great story."--Dennis Overbye, New York Times
"Zimmerman vividly describes the building of the telescope, the turf wars among bureaucrats, scientists and congressional staffers, and the trials and tribulations of the Hubble itself once it was launched. . . . [A] page-turner full of human drama."--Glenn Harlan Reynolds, Wall Street Journal
"The Hubble project's struggle not to be strangled by bureaucracy was conveyed last year in a stirring history, and cautionary tale, by Robert Zimmerman--The Universe in a Mirror: The Saga of the Hubble Space Telescope and the Visionaries Who Built It. Worth a read."--Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal
"A blow-by-blow account of how the Large Space Telescope, as it was originally called, got built--and a cracking good read it makes. . . . Zimmerman has written an engrossing account of a great story."--Michael Disney, American Scientist
"A fascinating inside look at how the great observatory came to be."--David Shiga, New Scientist
"Must reading for armchair astrophysicists."--Bryce Christensen, Booklist (starred review)
"The Universe in a Mirror is an epic biography of the Hubble telescope. But perhaps more poignant is the book's subtle reminder of all that will be lost in just a few years when Hubble falls from its orbit around Earth--and disintegrates."--Ashley Yeager, Science News
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: Foggy Vision 1
Chapter 2: Slow Start 20
Chapter 3: Getting Money 47
Chapter 4: Building It 77
Chapter 5: Saving It 118
Chapter 6: "New Phenomena Not Yet Imagined" 157
Chapter 7: Abandonment 182
Chapter 8: The Lure of the Unknown 209
Afterword to the Paperback Edition 235