Why do we launch telescopes into space?

The Earth’s atmosphere blurs our view of the cosmos. It also blocks certain types of radiation. For an unobstructed view, you need to be above the atmosphere. That’s why we launch telescopes into space.

Even on a cloudless night, we have to look through our atmosphere to observe the Universe. Turbulence in the air causes stars to twinkle. This makes it impossible to study very fine details. Moreover, many types of electromagnetic radiation from space are blocked by the atmosphere: gamma rays, X-rays, ultraviolet radiation and large portions of the infrared and submillimetre spectrum cannot be observed from the ground. Therefore, ever since the dawn of the space age, telescopes have been put on board rockets and satellites.

Space telescopes don’t have to deal with twinkling stars and they can see light that is blocked by the Earth’s atmosphere. However, they are expensive and difficult to build.