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Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Hubble Space Telescope!  You’re 30 years old now!

It’s really hard to believe.  We’ve all become so accustomed to seeing the amazing images brought to us by Hubble, it seems impossible that it’s been around for only 30 years.  And at the same time…30 years is an incredibly long time for any space mission!  Even the HST, which was specifically designed to be repaired and upgraded in orbit, was not expected to last so long.  The last servicing mission for HST was conducted in 2009, and no further missions are possible (Hubble was designed to be serviced by the Space Shuttle, which no longer flies).  And yet the mission is still going strong, and another 10 or even 20 years of HST are not out of the question.  Way to go NASA!

To celebrate this historic occasion, the Space Telescope Science Institute has released this incredible image from Hubble.

The 30th Anniversary Image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Courtesy STSci and NASA.

This is a star birth region in our companion galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud.  It is often called the “Cosmic Reef” because, just as a coral reef on Earth is teeming with life, this “cosmic reef” is teeming with new, young stars.  We see them here surrounded by the gas and dust clouds which formed them.  Hubble has shown us once again that the universe is a beautiful and wondrous place.  In these very strange times, it’s important for us to remember that.

Here’s a few fun facts about Hubble in honor of its 30th:

Launched on April 24, 1990, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has made more than 1.4 million observations of nearly 47,000 celestial objects. More than 900,000 observations were taken with imaging instruments.  That’s a lot of pictures!

In its 30-year lifetime the telescope has racked up more than 175,000 trips around our planet, totaling about 4.4 billion miles.  I hope Hubble is part of a good frequent flier program…that’s a lot of miles!

Hubble observations have produced nearly 164 terabytes of data, which are available for present and future generations of researchers.  They are also available to everyone to download and enjoy at Hubblesite.org.

Astronomers using Hubble data have published more than 17,000 scientific papers, with more than 1,000 of those papers published in 2019.  Proof positive that the Hubble Space Telescope is just as relevant today as when it was launched.

Happy Birthday, Hubble.  And here’s to many, many more!

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