If the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) could observe Earth from its orbit 570 kilometers (350 miles) above Earth’s surface, it would in theory be able to see objects as small as 0.3 meters (30 centimeters). But it’s not possible to turn the telescope in an Earth-observing direction. Here’s why.
First, the brightness of Earth would damage the instruments aboard the telescope.
Second, HST would have to look down through the atmosphere, which would blur the images and make the actual resolution or sharpness of the Earth images worse than theory suggests.
Finally, the HST orbits the Earth at a speed (27,000 kilometers per hour or 17,000 miles per hour). Its speed in orbit above Earth is so fast that any image it took would be blurred by the motion.
Bottom line: It’s not possible to use the Hubble Space Telescope to observe Earth.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.