Twenty-three years ago (April 24, 1990) the Hubble Space Telescope was launched into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. The initial response to Hubble was one of frustration since the mirror that was installed had been ground to the wrong prescription. This caused most of the photos to be fuzzy at best. That was soon cleared up via a space walk from a Space Shuttle mission in December of 1993. Since that time the performance of the Hubble Space Telescope has been revolutionary and has advanced our knowledge of the universe far betond what scientists ever dreamed.
It is hoped that Hubble will continue to operate at least through 2020, a good two years beyond the launch of its’ replacement, the James Webb Space Telescope. NASA has committed to funding Hubble through April 30, 2016 but could continue beyond that date should Hubble continue to produce good science.
Hubble’s latest photo is of the Comet ISON, thought to be the comet of the century. Hubble spied the comet some 394 million miles from earth on April 10, 2013.
Some of Hubble’s most iconic photos have been splashed all over everything from front pages to coffee mugs. “Ask any person on the street the name of one telescope, and they’ll say Hubble,” said Ken Sembach of the Space Telescope Science Institute. “So that just shows you the level of impact.”