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.

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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.