In April this year, the Hubble Space Telescope, which was named after astronomer Edwin Hubble, celebrates its 30th year in orbit.
One of NASA’s Great Observatories was first launched into the Earth orbit in 1990 with a space shuttle Discovery. In a day, despite a flaw in the main mirror, it was released into space to begin its journey and has remained in operation ever since. It took five separate Space Shuttle missions to get the telescope in its present excellent shape.
Hubble is a joint project of NSA and the European Space Agency. It was not the first telescope, but it was the first one created to be maintained by astronauts in space. The Hubble Space Telescope was supposed to maintain in operation for 15 years, but it seems like it could last up until 2030-2040, making it one of NASA’s longest-living and most valuable observatories. According to plans, the telescope will work for another ten years – paired with the James Webb Telescope, the launch of which is scheduled for 2021.
In honor of the telescope’s thirty years in space, a team of researchers from NASA published a new image that the Hubble took. It captured two stunning nebulas – the red NGC 2020 and the blue NGC 2014, which are a part of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy smaller than the Milky Way that is located 163,000 light-years from us. The picture is called “Cosmic Reef” because it very much resembles a coral reef.
The image is so detailed and clear because the atmosphere of the Earth does not interfere with catching waves of a wide range. The telescope rushes along the Earth’s orbit at a speed of 27 thousand kilometers per hour, thus making a complete revolution in 97 minutes.
"Hubble has given us stunning insights about the universe, from nearby planets to the farthest galaxies we have seen so far," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA. "It was revolutionary to launch such a large telescope 30 years ago, and this astronomy powerhouse is still delivering revolutionary science today. Its spectacular images have captured the imagination for decades, and will continue to inspire humanity for years to come."
Over the past thirty years, Hubble has showed humanity wonders that it had never seen before by taking images of our universe.
The telescope entirely changed our understanding of the cosmos. The Hubble examined our solar system along with other planets, suns, and stars. It helped us understand that the universe’s expansion rate is accelerating as well as explore some of the universe’s earliest galaxies.