It can be hard to get a clear view of outer space from here on Earth. City lights, rain clouds and the haziness in the earth’s atmosphere can all get in the way. Placing telescopes on top of mountains can help, but NASA went even further with the Hubble Space Telescope. The Hubble was first launched into space 25 years ago so that scientists could get a better view of the universe. It sure did a fantastic job, and it helped astronomers answer important questions about black holes, planets and stars.
The view from the Hubble Telescope is so good it’s like standing in the United States and being able to see a couple of fireflies in Tokyo, Japan. The Hubble Telescope has found faraway galaxies, which gives us a clearer idea of how long ago the universe was born. Hubble has seen many planets in different stages of being formed, which gives astronomers clues to how Earth and the planets in our solar system formed. Click here to see some more of Hubble’s best photos.
Twenty-five year is a long time for a space telescope . According to Charles Bolden of NASA, “Frankly, we never even thought that the telescope would last this long,” The Hubble is working better than anyone expected, and NASA plans to keep it running until 2020 . By then, the next space telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, will be launched. This new telescope will have a more powerful camera and will capture images in a different type of light, infrared. (Hubble captures ultraviolet light.) This will allow the James Webb Space Telescope to see even farther into space.
The Hubble Space Telescope and the telescopes on earth produce more pictures than astronomers have time to look through. If you are interested in astronomy, you can help professional astronomers look through these pictures to find star clusters, galaxies and planets in citizen science projects like Star Date: M83, Planet Hunters and Galaxy Zoo.