On April 24, 1990, the space shuttle Discovery lifted off from Earth with its precious cargo, the Hubble Space Telescope. The next day, astronauts released the telescope into space to begin its journey of discovery. No one could have predicted what wonders Hubble would see in the 30 years that followed. From our own cosmic backyard to the far reaches of the universe, Hubble showed us properties of space and time that for most of human history could only be imagined.
Hubble’s keen eye sees ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared light, and delivers its wide range of discoveries through images and spectroscopy. The telescope has investigated our own solar system and characterized the atmospheres of planets around other suns. It has shown us how stars form, live out their lives, and die. Hubble has revealed intricate details of the shapes, structures, and histories of galaxies, as well as discovered supermassive black holes in galactic centers. Observing the cosmic frontier, Hubble has uncovered some of the universe’s earliest galaxies, explored the nature of the enigmatic dark matter, and built upon the discovery of the yet-unexplained phenomenon called dark energy.
Today, Hubble continues to churn out groundbreaking science, revealing new views of cosmic wonders and helping to answer even more of astronomy’s major questions. In the future, it will partner with NASA’s next great observatories, the James Webb Space Telescope and the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), to provide complementary science.
Source: “CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF DISCOVERY” Hubblesite, 24 April 2020.<https://hubblesite.org/hubble-30th-anniversary>