Hubble’s History



The Southern Crab Nebula — Hubble’s 29th anniversary image.

Paige Schneider, Staff Reporter

There’s nothing more fun than setting up a telescope in your backyard as a child and looking up into the universe, and perhaps seeing the blurry image of your favorite planet. Although there is much more advanced technology than $100 telescopes you can purchase off of amazon, Earth’s atmosphere still makes it nearly impossible to see out into the universe clearly.  Telescopes are still placed on mountain tops where the Earth’s atmosphere is the thinnest because of its distorting effects.
Because of this, in 1923 German scientist Hermann Oberth suggested that a telescope could be launched into orbit so the Earth’s atmosphere didn’t get in the way of obtaining clear images. The once crazy idea didn’t seem so out of this world by 1969, thanks to advancing technology. In 1975 the ESA (European Space Agency) began to work with NASA on the telescope and by 1977 congress approved necessary funding.
After the 1.5 billion dollar project was completed, the Space Telescope launched on April 24, 1990, aboard the space shuttle Discovery. The Telescope was named the Hubble (HST) in honor of Edwin Hubble, who was an american astronomer that determined the universe extended beyond the Milky Way Galaxy. Unfortunately, after the launch, the HST was found to have a flawed mirror once it entered orbit and sent images back to Earth. The flaw itself was just 1/50th the thickness of a sheet of paper, but it caused the images to come back fuzzy and useless. It took three years time before NASA was able to mount a repair mission, and on December 2, 1993, the Space Shuttle Endeavor took a crew of seven to fix Hubble. The telescope was fitted with two new cameras, which were later on responsible for Hubble’s most famous photo. The mission was a success, and the Hubble Telescope now observes space in near-ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared light.
Hubble’s astounding discoveries over the past 29 years have revolutionized nearly all fields of astronomy and astrophysics. The Hubble telescope has made the deepest views ever taken of the evolving universe, found planet-forming disks around nearby stars, has chemically probed the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars, and has identified the first supermassive black hole. Not to mention that Hubble is responsible for the discovery of an accelerating universe. This year, for Hubble’s 29th birthday, has released a new image of the Southern Crab Nebula. With no end of the mission in sight, astronomers hope the Hubble will continue to astound us for years to come.