You might not have known it, but a lot of your favorite space pictures were taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Images of nebulae, galaxies, stars and even our own lonely solar system. Sitting from our humble perch over 92 million miles from the sun, it’s amazing that a hunk of man-made metal and glass is capable of capturing such astonishing photos.
The industry of man isn’t just a destructive, consuming force. Sometimes we create stuff capable of peering into space and time itself.
The Hubble Space Telescope launched into low Earth orbit all the way back on April 24, 1990, —that makes the galactic sightseer 25 years old, which is, in some states, old enough to rent a car. Congrats!
Think about it; the 43 ft x 14 ft NASA telescope (named after astronomer Edwin Hubble) has been in space for a quarter century, and it’s still operational; it has, however, needed to be fixed on a number of occasions, such as a mission in 1993 to repair its optics. Impressive, and awe-inspiring. Without it, our understanding of astrophysics wouldn’t be what it is today.
HST sports a 7.9 foot mirror, with four main instruments that allow it to observe our universe in near ultraviolet, visible and near infrared spectra. Without the technology included in the telescope, along with its orbit outside the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere, the images you see below just wouldn’t be possible.
There are countless images in HST’s library—too many to include here, so check out Hubble’s site to see more. I’ve picked out some of the best of the best, pictures you may have seen but didn’t realize were shot by the gallant tourist. Seeing them makes you appreciate what Hubble (and NASA) has accomplished over the past 25 years, and it makes you wonder what else it out there.