In this Tuesday, May 19, 2009 photo released by NASA, the Hubble Space Telescope is seen from the Space Shuttle Atlantis.
AP Photo/NASA

Week in Geek: Hubble gotchu edition

On April 24, 1990, just over 25 years ago, Space Shuttle Discovery launched from Kennedy Space Center as STS-31 with the Hubble Space Telescope aboard. Current NASA administrator Charles Bolden was the pilot, accompanied by Loren Shriver, Bruce McCandless, Kathryn D. Sullivan and Steven Hawley.

This photograph was taken by the STS-31 crew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery and shows the Hubble Space Telescope being deployed on 04/25/90 from the payload bay.

Shortly after Hubble was deployed, it was discovered that its primary mirror had a fatal flaw and the telescope’s mission was in jeopardy until a plan to repair it could be hatched.

Hubble has now had a total of five servicing missions to keep it in shape for capturing some of the most stunning views of our universe to date. The last repair mission, in 2009, had quite a dramatic turn when astronaut Mike Massimino couldn’t remove a handrail that was blocking the compartment where one of the instruments was located.

Over the past two and a half decades, Hubble has meant a lot of things to a lot of people, but it might never have existed in the first place if not for one of its strongest proponents, astrophysicist John Bahcall.

To mark the anniversary, NASA has released this new image of a giant cluster called Westerlund 2. Located roughly 20,000 light-years away in the constellation Carina, Westerlund 2 is a young star-forming region where new stars are actively being born and blowing out cavities in the surrounding hydrogen gas clouds with their powerful winds.

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image of the cluster Westerlund 2 and its surroundings has been released to celebrate Hubble's 25th year in orbit and a quarter of a century of new discoveries, stunning images and outstanding science.

If you haven’t taken the time to truly appreciate the both the beauty and the science of the Hubble Space Telescope, I hope you can take a few minutes now to contemplate how much we’ve learned about our place in the universe, thanks to this amazing piece of technology. And remember, for all your “exquisite interstellar photography” needs: Hubble gotchu.

Keep on geeking!

@Summer_Ash, In-house Astrophysicist

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Week in Geek: Hubble gotchu edition