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.
- Original footage of the STS-31 Discovery launch that took Hubble to space, narrated by the crew themselves. [VIDEO]
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.
- The engineering behind the first repair mission to fix Hubble’s blurring vision. [VIDEO]
- Fascinating first person account by astronaut K. Megan McArthur about what it’s like to capture Hubble with the shuttle’s robotic arm.
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.
- Astronaut Mike Massimino reflects on how preparing for launch can be scary, even for him. [VIDEO]
- Listen to Massimino’s moving story of how the last Hubble repair mission almost went terribly wrong. [AUDIO]
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.
- Astrophysicist John Bahcall’s involvement with Hubble over the years, from inception to launch, in his own words. [VIDEO]
- Astronaut John Grunsfeld took a pair of wedding rings belonging to John Bahcall and his wife on his first Hubble repair mission in honor of Bahcall’s contributions.
- Five scientists reflect on what Hubble means to them. [VIDEO]
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.
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.
- Stunning gallery of nine photos taken by Hubble in both visible and infrared light. Move the slider to see them change. [INTERACTIVE]
- A selection of lesser-known and less glamorous images taken by Hubble that were nonetheless scientifically momentous. [SLIDESHOW]
- What you can see when you point the Hubble Space Telescope at an empty patch of sky for hundreds of hours.
Keep on geeking!
@Summer_Ash, In-house Astrophysicist