So where were you nineteen years ago today? That is when the Hubble Space Telescope arrived in space. After a very rocky start, it is still going, wowing scientists and the masses alike – and getting ready for it’s final makeover. STS-125 – the final Hubble Repair Mission – is set to launch on May 12.
Hubble was not the first space telescope but it is by far the most sophisticated, providing earthlings with unprecedented detail and spectacular views of their universe. The images sent back by Hubble have not only advanced the cause of space research, their haunting, spectacular beauty has boosted the popularity of astronomy in general.In 1946, astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer spelled out the advantages such an observatory had over its earthbound counterparts: Being free of atmospheric interference, a space telescope is able to bring distant objects such as stars into much sharper focus. Additionally, the absence of an atmosphere makes it possible for a telescope to observe unrestricted infrared and ultraviolet light.