Hubble Space Telescope turns 30

Image credit: NASA

Launched back in 1990 by the space shuttle Discovery, the Hubble Space Telescope has been orbiting Earth for three decades, peering into the great unknown of space. From captures the growing stars, far-off planets and our neighbour galaxies, Hubble has made more than a million observations, all while whizzing around the globe at around eight kilometres a second.

Hubble can explore the universe thanks to a collection of scientific instruments aboard the telescope, which are fed light via large mirrors. The primary mirror can collect around 40,000 times more light than the human eye. This light acts as data to be interpreted by five different instruments within Hubble’s bowls, each of which dissects different wavelengths. For example, the onboard Cosmic Origins Spectrograph studies ultraviolet light to better our knowledge of how planets or stars form.

For 30 years, these instruments have been collecting data and have made some astonishing discoveries. From imaging, the furthest known galaxy and unmasking block holes to revealing the atmospheres on other planets that resemble our own, it’s safe to say that without the Hubble Space Telescope when it comes to understanding the universe we’d still very much be in the dark.

Quiz: Name that Nebula

Hubble has taken countless images of some of the most spectacular nebulae in the universe, but can you name some of them? Take the quiz below to find out.


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