On April 25, 1990 the Hubble Space Telescope was deployed from the cargo bay of space shuttle Discovery as part of mission STS-31. The Hubble telescope has since traveled more than 3 billion miles along a circular low Earth orbit about 340 miles in altitude. Its position above the atmosphere, which distorts and blocks the light that reaches our planet, gives it a view of the universe that far surpasses that of ground-based telescopes. Hubble is one of NASA's most successful and long-lasting science missions. It has beamed hundreds of thousands of images back to Earth, shedding light on many great astronomical mysteries.
The Hubble Space Telescope is deployed from the Space Shuttle Discovery. April 1990. Credit: NASA
Once locked within Earth's orbit the Hubble Space Telescope was tested by NASA scientists. There appeared to be a problem with focusing the telescope due to the 8-foot main mirror being polished four-millionths of an inch too flat. Three years after initial launch, NASA sent a crew of seven astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on a mission to repair the telescope during five long days of spacewalks. Four subsequent Space Shuttle missions were sent to repair, upgrade, and replace systems onboard the telescope, including all five of its main instruments. Missions were sent in 1997, 1999, 2002 and 2009.
Astronaut Mike Good performs repairs during Hubble's final servicing mission. May 2009. Credit: NASA
The launch and deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope marked the most significant advance in astronomy since Galileo's telescope. Thanks to five servicing missions and more than 25 years of operation, our view of the universe and our place within it has never been the same. Please enjoy this slideshow of high quality images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Collection of images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA