Hubble Space Telescope turns 30 — surpassing NASA's expectations

April 24 marks the 30th anniversary of NASA launching the Hubble Space Telescope into low Earth orbit.

The telescope was only designed to last 15 years, but, since launching in 1990, it has captured over 1.4 million images of space. Experts anticipate it will continue working through 2025.

Hubble is about the size of a school bus and is powered by solar panels to orbit the Earth 15 times per day from 340 miles away. Its observations have produced stunning photography of the universe, including galaxies, black holes, planets and dark matter. That, in turn, has inspired hundreds of research papers studying and identifying these distant worlds.

“These pictures, they really have redefined the universe for public, and they speak to public at visceral and emotional level that is far beyond the scientific understanding,” Ray Villard, a long-time public affairs officer working on Hubble for the Space Telescope Science Institute, said at the 235th American Astronomical Society conference in early January 2020.

According to CNET, in honor of Hubble’s birthday, NASA is celebrating by allowing you to search what “cosmic wonder” Hubble spotted on your birthday.

Mine, for example, is the Hourglass Nebula, which was captured on July 30, 1995.

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might also want to read about the science behind how the Northern Lights are formed.

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