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SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FEATURES

HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE 25TH ANNIVERSARY


April 2015 marks the 25th birthday of the most famous telescope in the world. Things didnt get off
to a great start when it was discovered that the mirrors were ground to the wrong shape. Subsequent
service missions restored Hubbles eyesight and the telescope continues to provide us with valuable
data and stunning imagery. Here are some of the best from the past 25 years.

Click here to see the images online


25 Years of Hubble Space Telescope

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FEATURES

ts the most famous telescope in the world, and


April 2015 marks its 25th
anniversary. Though it was
launched with a flawed optical system, the Hubble Space
Telescope has become the
most successful telescope
ever built. Because it operates
in space, the HSTs images
arent blurred by atmospheric
turbulence, and it can observe
in wavelengths that dont
reach ground-based telescopes. It is also the most expensive telescope ever built:
$5 billions from NASA, plus
several hundred million euros
from the European Space
Agency. But to astronomers
who have gained new insights
into the workings of the universe, and the general public
who have looked in wonder at
Hubbles amazing images, it is
money well spent. The Hubble
Space Telescope has already
exceeded its design life by five
years: astronomers expect it
to last past 2020.
In April 1990, Shuttle mission
STS-31 placed the bus-sized
telescope into a perfect orbit
560 km above the Earth.
Astronomers were jubilant

25 Years of Hubble Space Telescope

until the first pictures taken


by the telescope revealed a
serious problem. The pictures
were blurred. Investigations
revealed that the 2.4 meter
mirror touted at the time
as the worlds most perfect
mirror had been ground to
the wrong shape. The worlds
most expensive telescope
became a laughing stock.
Three years later, NASA
launched a repair mission that
was a major venture in itself,
involving five days of spacewalks to fit corrective optics
popularly known as Hubbles
spectacles. The mission was a
resounding success: the first
pictures sent back to Earth
were breathtaking. Hubble
now had 20:20 vision.
Hubble has revolutionised
our understanding of the
universe. Heres some of the
telescopes facts and achievements:
The HST transmits about 120
gigabytes of science data
every week. This is equal to
about a kilometer of books
on a shelf. Its accuracy is
phenomenal: it can lock onto

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FEATURES

25 Years of Hubble Space Telescope

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FEATURES

25 Years of Hubble Space Telescope

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FEATURES

a target equivalent to the width of a


human hair at a distance of well over
a kilometer.

and CD covers, T-shirts and posters becoming one of the most popular
astronomical images of all time.

Hubbles biggest ever image is a


mosaic of 13,000 separate images of
the neighbouring Andromeda galaxy.
It took 39 months to assemble, and
is so detailed that even though the
Andromeda galaxy is two million light
years away, most of its 100 million
stars are clearly visible.

In 2011, Hubble made its millionth


observation a spectroscopic analysis
of the exoplanet HAT-P-7b.
Hubble has narrowed down the age
of the universe to about 13.7 billion
years.

Because it looks so far into space,


Hubble is essentially a time machine.
Over a period of four months, Hubble
focused on a small patch of sky in
the Southern Hemisphere. The result
of this longest of long exposures
was the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, the
deepest image of the universe ever
taken. The HUDF contains thousands
of galaxies, some of which are 13 billion years old seen as they existed
just a few hundred million years after
the Big Bang.
In 2008, Hubble took pictures of the
extrasolar planet Fomalhaut b, the
first direct image in visible light of a
planet orbiting another star.
Hubbles most popular image is the
so-called Pillars of Creation, a starforming region of the Eagle Nebula.
This has been reproduced on book
25 Years of Hubble Space Telescope

HST observations of star-forming


regions have shown that discs of dust
and gas that may eventually become
planets surround many young stars.
So alien worlds may well be common
throughout the universe.
Hubble discovered that supermassive
black holes are probably at the heart
of most galaxies.
Hubble treated the world to one of
the most spectacular Solar System
events in a century the collision of
Comet Shoemaker-Levy with Jupiter
in 1994. It showed massive fireballs
and an Earth-sized impact feature
as the massive planet destroyed the
comet in a dramatic example of a
multi-megaton cosmic impact.
ENDS 650 WDS SCIENCE PHOTO
LIBRARY 2015

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FULL PICTURE LIST: Click here to see the images online

25 Years of Hubble Space Telescope

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FEATURES

25 Years of Hubble Space Telescope

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FEATURES

25 Years of Hubble Space Telescope