Hubble telescope turns 25, marks quarter century of amazing photos

World Today

The Sombrero galaxy. captured by the Hubble telescope. The galaxy has an apparent diameter that is nearly one-fifth the diameter of the full moon. The team used Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys to take six pictures of the galaxy and then stitched them together to create the final composite image.

Friday marks the 25th anniversary of the Hubble telescope, one of NASA’s grandest achievements. The telescope has peered into the far recesses of the universe and provided humbling glimpses of stars at the moments of their birth and death. Its images have dazzled and inspired the world, both scientists and ordinary folk.

Photos: Images from Hubble telescope's 25 years

Friday marks the 25th anniversary of the Hubble telescope, one of NASA's grandest achievements. The telescope has peered into the far recesses of the universe and provided humbling glimpses of stars at the moments of their birth and death. Its images have dazzled and inspired the world, both scientists and ordinary folk. (Music by Nic Bommarito)

Spiral Galaxy M74
Spiral Galaxy M74
The coil-shaped Helix Nebula
The coil-shaped Helix Nebula
The many wavelengths of Saturn
The many wavelengths of Saturn
eXtreme Deep Field assembly of 10 years of Hubble photographs
eXtreme Deep Field assembly of 10 years of Hubble photographs
Sombrero galaxy
Sombrero galaxy
The Crab Nebula
The Crab Nebula
Jupiter and its moving moons
Jupiter and its moving moons
Horsehead Nebula
Horsehead Nebula
V838 Monocerotis' temporary blaze April 30, 2002
V838 Monocerotis' temporary blaze April 30, 2002
V838 Monocerotis on December 17, 2002
V838 Monocerotis on December 17, 2002
NGC 1300 spiral galaxy
NGC 1300 spiral galaxy
Omega or Swan Nebula aka M17
Omega or Swan Nebula aka M17
Pair of interacting galaxies, Arp 273
Pair of interacting galaxies, Arp 273
Comet ISON hurtling toward the sun
Comet ISON hurtling toward the sun
Carina Nebula's central region sees major star births, deaths
Carina Nebula's central region sees major star births, deaths
Supernova explosion of a massive star
Supernova explosion of a massive star
Planetary nebula NGC 3132
Planetary nebula NGC 3132
Dark Matter Ring in Galaxy Cluster
Dark Matter Ring in Galaxy Cluster
The "evil eye" galaxy of Messier 64
The "evil eye" galaxy of Messier 64
Proxima Centauri constellation, our nearest neighbour
Proxima Centauri constellation, our nearest neighbour
Young planetary nebula of MyCn18
Young planetary nebula of MyCn18
"Pillars of Creation"
"Pillars of Creation"
"Pillars of Creation" zoomed out
"Pillars of Creation" zoomed out
Interacting Galaxy NGC 5257
Interacting Galaxy NGC 5257
The Sagittarius Star Cloud
The Sagittarius Star Cloud
Photo illustration of spiral galaxy M106
Photo illustration of spiral galaxy M106
Images of Saturn
Images of Saturn
Closeup of Saturn
Closeup of Saturn
Overlapping galaxies of NGC 3314
Overlapping galaxies of NGC 3314
Sweeping view of Andromeda galaxy (M31)
Sweeping view of Andromeda galaxy (M31)
IC 418: The "Spirograph" Nebula
IC 418: The "Spirograph" Nebula
Planetary Nebula NGC 6302 roiling cauldrons of butterfly gas
Planetary Nebula NGC 6302 roiling cauldrons of butterfly gas
The weather on mars
The weather on mars
Two faces of spiral galaxy M51 aka Whirlpool Galaxy
Two faces of spiral galaxy M51 aka Whirlpool Galaxy

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden helped deliver Hubble to orbit on April 24, 1990 aboard space shuttle Discovery. Bolden said neither he nor anyone else back then expected the space telescope to work much beyond 15 years — or accomplish so much.

From its approximately 350-mile-high (565-kilometer-high) perch, Hubble has made more than 1.2 observations of more than 38,000 celestial objects.

“A quarter-century later, Hubble has fundamentally changed our human understanding of our universe and our place in it,” Bolden said

Launched by space shuttle Discovery on April 24, 1990, the telescope initially had blurry vision because of a flawed mirror. Spacewalking astronauts put in a corrective lens, restoring not only Hubble’s eyesight but NASA’s integrity.

Five times shuttle astronauts have visited to make improvements and repairs. Astronomers have learned to use Hubble “in such exquisite ways” thanks to a quarter-century of operations, said John Grunsfeld, the the last person to touch the telescope in 2009.

Now NASA’s associate administrator for science missions, Grunsfeld expects the observatory to keep wowing the world with its science for at least another five years.

“It really is the people’s telescope,” he said.

NASA expects Hubble to keep producing first-class science for at least five more years.