On 24th April this year NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope will complete its 25th anniversary. NASA will commemorate the event by releasing a documentary on the instrument and also hold other events.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit around the Earth in 1990. The Space Shuttle Discovery blasted off from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center with the telescope inside its cargo bay. It headed farther out than any previous flight and deployed the Hubble Space Telescope to its 345 mile high orbit, where it remains to this day.
David Gaynes, director of the soon-to-be-released documentary on Hubble Space telescope called ‘Saving Hubble’, said, “Hubble’s wide support among the general public, to say nothing of the space and astronomy communities, is obviously a testament to the success of the mission, but the achievement of Hubble is even greater than the sum of all the science and wonder the mission has generated – so great it’s hard to articulate the feeling, though so many of us recognize it and attempt to describe it.”
It was astronomer Lyman Spitzer, who outlined the ideal telescope in 1946 and argued that from outside the atmosphere, a telescope’s resolution would be limited only by its optics. A telescope in space could also see in infrared and ultraviolet light, which are blocked for ground-based observatories by Earth’s atmosphere. This gave rise to the idea of Hubble Space Telescope.
The Hubble Space Telescope is 13.3-meter long and weighs 24,500-pound. It has a 2.4-meter primary mirror and boasts of generating a whopping 10-Terabyte of new data annually.
Since its launch, the Hubble Space Telescope has examined everything from the asteroids, comets, planets and moons of our solar system, to the stars and nebulae in our own galaxy and others. It has peered all the way across the Universe and even to the beginning of time.
Hubble has also mapped the large-scale, three-dimensional distribution of dark matter, which neither absorbs light nor emits it. It also has a key role in the determination of the history of the cosmic star-formation rate.