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Spectrograph, Faint Object, Hubble Space Telescope (FOS)


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Explore the Universe exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Collection Item Summary:

The Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS), one of the original axial instruments launched with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in April 1990, provided confirming evidence for a massive black hole in 1994 in the giant elliptical galaxy M87. It also engaged in many other observing programs, observing individual stars in other galaxies as well as the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter. But most significantly it refined quantitative measurements of the characteristics of massive black holes from studies of accretion disks at the centers of galaxies. After almost seven years of service, FOS was removed from HST on February 13, 1997 by the Space Shuttle crew (STS 82, Discovery) during a servicing mission to provide room for a new instrument. The instrument was transferred to NASM by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in 1999. It is now on display in the Explore the Universe gallery.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum


Credit Line

Transferred from NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD.


Black aluminum and mixed metal box mounted vertically on a 4x4 foot aluminum plate. The box protects a precision framework of metal that constitutes an optical bench consisting of optical components, electronic detectors and baffles.


  • 3-D: 91.4 x 91.4 x 213.4cm, 308.4kg (36 x 36 x 84 in., 680lb.)
  • Support (Rolling base): 130.2 × 22.9 × 130.2cm (51 1/4 in. × 9 in. × 51 1/4 in.)

Country of Origin

United States of America





Inventory Number