On the morning of April 24, 1990, when NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope was launched into space, along the space shuttle Discovery, a new door was opened for humanity.
“Even the most optimistic person to whom you could have spoken back in 1990 couldn’t have predicted the degree to which Hubble would re-write our astrophysics and planetary science textbooks. A quarter century later, Hubble has fundamentally changed human understanding of the universe and our place in it,” said Charlie Bolden, the pilot of the mission that put Hubble into orbit.
Hubble’s scientific gains had been extremely valuable, showing the universe as we never imagined.
Above Earth’s atmosphere, Hubble offers a larger-than-life, “super-rainbow” perspective of the universe: from visible ultraviolet to into near-infrared wavelengths of light. Hubble’s extraordinary images reveal both beauty and disturbances across the incredible deep universe. Along with the powers of NASA’s Great Observatories, Spitzer, Chandra and the defunct Gamma Ray Observatory, Hubble showed a different image of the solar system and has changed astronomy forever.
Initially designed to measure the growth rate of the universe and investigate black holes, Hubble’s studies and research has now explored nearly every corner of deep-space astronomy, like the expansion rate of the universe, the link between galaxy mass and black hole mass; galaxy development and formation briefly after the Big Bang; and the chemistry of planets orbiting other stars.
Hubble’s long observance of the far universe have shown an “undiscovered country” of violent explosions, and galaxy collisions. The pictures reveal a dynamic evolution of the universe since the Big Bang.
Hubble has also offered a splendid view of our own solar system, revealing asteroids, changing auroras and atmospheric condition on planets and moons, and even permitting the detection of previously unknown moons.
More than being only an useful tool for astronomers, Hubble is one of the most influential scientific gadgets ever built, reshaping what the world believes to be outer space. Its photos and discoveries have caught the imagination of people everywhere around the world, influencing anything from pop culture to science fiction and art. Hubble has also improved science, engineering, technology, and mathematics education. Its education contents are used by more than a half of million teachers and but also six million students everywhere in the United States.
After five space shuttle missions, with 32 astronaut space walks, but also a multitude of scientists and engineers that worked on Hubble, the observatory has greatly out-lasted its scheduled end-of-mission in 2005.
Image Source: NASA