Saturday, April 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Hubble

Today is the 20th birthday (of sorts) of the Hubble Space Telescope. It was launched on 24th April 1990 in the Discovery Space Shuttle, although it wasn't actually deployed until the 25th and it's first light image was released on 20th May 1990. It had some teething problems to start with (a flawed mirror that blurred images meaning that the telescope could not be used at it's maximum resolution), but was specifically designed so that it could be serviced by astronauts and fixes applied. Since the fix it has been one of the most iconic and most importantly scientifically productive instruments ever (a "top 10" of its major discoveries can be seen here, although there are many others). Several servicing missions have gone on to improve its scientific capabilities by adding new detectors, and also greatly extending its lifetime. It also takes a great picture or two (certainly prettier than anything we'll be able to produce by observing gravitational waves), which has helped endear it to the public and make it some famous.

These images have been released to celebrate it's birthday, and hopefully they'll be a lot more to come before it finally closes its eye.

Hubble Captures View of