The Hubble Space Telescope is by far the most versatile instrument presently in orbit. After the recent retrofit, the telescope can make spectral measurements from the near infrared to the near ultraviolet parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is also capable of taking photographs in the visible region.

During the 1997 retrofit, the Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph (GHRS) was removed from Hubble, but until that time, the GHRS made a number of high-resolution images of UV spectra that gave scientists clues about the formation of the chemical elements boron and beryllium in supernovae. The GHRS also detected an aurora on the Jovian moon, Ganymede, and has detected UV radiation from comets around the star Beta Pictoris.

During the retrofit, a new high-resolution infrared spectrograph was installed. This instrument, called NICMOS, will examine IR wavelengths never before observed and may discover new planets orbiting distant stars. Another new instrument called STIS will be able to make observations in the visible and near UV wavelengths with greater resolution and in a wider field.

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