On this date 25 years ago the Hubble telescope was launched into orbit aboard the space shuttle Discovery and it has been beaming back this spectacular van art ever since, although a minor repair had to be performed first. “Hubble’s primary mirror, polished so carefully and lovingly over the course of a full year, had a flaw called ‘spherical aberration.’ . . Astronauts and NASA staff spent 11 months training for one of the most complex space missions ever attempted.” Do yourself a favor and watch ‘Invisible Universe Revealed’ on PBS.
In honor of Hubble’s landmark anniversary, NOVA tells the remarkable story of the telescope that forever changed our understanding of the cosmos. But Hubble’s early days nearly doomed it to failure: a one-millimeter engineering blunder had turned the billion-dollar telescope into an object of ridicule. It fell to five heroic astronauts in a daring mission to return Hubble to the cutting edge of science.
(Taken last year, this colorful Hubble mosaic of a small portion of the Monkey Head Nebula unveils a collection of carved knots of gas and dust silhouetted against glowing gas.)
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)