On April 24, 1990 — 25 years ago today — the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into space by the Space Shuttle Discovery. The telescope was secured in the shuttle’s cargo bay. On April 25, 1990, the Discovery crew, using the space shuttle arm, deployed the Hubble telescope into orbit. Hubble travels in a nearly circular orbit around the Earth every 97 minutes, about 343 miles (552 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface. In its 25 years in orbit, Hubble has orbited the Earth over 135,000 times!
Hubble is one of NASA’s Great Observatories, along with the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. The Hubble Telescope was named after astronomer Edwin Hubble, who first confirmed by observations from an Earth-based optical telescope that the Universe was expanding. The Hubble Space Telescope has recorded some of the most detailed visible-light images ever, especially probing deeply into space and time. A number of the Hubble observations have led to astrophysical breakthroughs, such as the determination of expansion rate of the universe.
Interestingly, Hubble is the only telescope designed for service in space by astronauts. This design function allowed a near monumental error in its mirror grounding to be corrected. In 1993, the optics were corrected by astronauts who installed “spectacles” that compensated for the wrongly shaped mirror. In total, there have been 5 space shuttle servicing missions to Hubble to improve its usefulness. Hubble is now in the final phase of its life, as its vital systems are not expected to last much beyond this year and Earth’s gravity will eventually pull it back into the Earth’s atmosphere where it will burn up and disintegrate sometime after 2019.
•Hubble Space Telescope Deployment (length 01:13). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPI28qRa4ng
•Full BBC Documentary — Hubble’s Space Telescope — Amazing Universe (length 01:15:13). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amJtdCFoc5U
•National Geographic: Hubble’s Amazing Universe (length 45:48). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcfN_HN4TVg
•Deep Universe: Hubble’s Universe Unfiltered (length 31:23). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4GKf623Exk
•20 Years in 20 Images: Hubble’s Universe Unfiltered (length 28:15). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jRplhKh9Bg
• Hubble’s Universe: Greatest Discoveries and Latest Images by Terence Dickinson. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1770851070/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1770851070&linkCode=as2&tag=historyknowledge-20&linkId=CODV4BDTDSKVW7TX
• Hubble: Imaging Space and Time by David H. Devorkin. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1426208944/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1426208944&linkCode=as2&tag=historyknowledge-20&linkId=C2OK6SZFTF2LVF7I
•Hubble Space Telescope as viewed from the departing Space Shuttle Atlantis, flying STS-125, Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission 4. By Ruffnax (Crew of STS-125) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHST-SM4.jpeg
•Exploded graphic of the Hubble Space Telescope. By HubbleExploded.svg: AndrewBuck derivative work: Julia\talk (HubbleExploded.svg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHubbleExploded_edit_1.svg
•Diagram showing the orbit of the Hubble Space Telescope. By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADiagram_of_Hubble's_orbit.jpg
•The Hubble Control Center at Goddard Space Flight Center, 1999. By http://www.hubblesite.org/.Goodmanjoon at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AHubble_Control_Centre.jpg
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