The Hubble Telescope has made amazing discoveries!
In 1990, the Hubble Telescope was launched and set into orbit just outside the Earth's atmosphere. Hubble was the first telescope designed to be serviced by astronauts from space. Since launch, there have been five servicing missions performed that have helped keep the telescope operational and equipped with up-to-date technological upgrades.
A Little History
The Hubble Telescope was named after the famous American astronomer, Edwin Hubble, who had theorized the existence of galaxies other than our own, and the expansion of the universe.
When Hubble was first launched in April of 1990, the clarity of the images received by the telescope had not been what scientists were expecting. The optical mirrors were not functioning properly, resulting in bad image quality. In December of 1993, crew members from the Space Shuttle Endeavor corrected the issue. From that point, Hubble began taking some of the most amazing images seen to this day. The most famous pictures taken are called the "Hubble Ultra Deep Field" images.
Hubble is equipped with two large solar panels which convert sunlight into electricity, which is used to power all of the telescope's instruments. Among these instruments are three guidance sensors and two spectrographs. The guidance sensors, combined with gyroscopes, help Hubble position itself and stay accurately pointed at its target.
Scientists stationed in Greenbelt, Maryland control Hubble by transmitting radio signals. Similarly, Hubble sends radio signals back to Earth when requested, often with new data and images that lead to the discovery of new stars, planets, galaxies, and more!
The telescope was originally designed to operate for fifteen years outside the Earth's atmosphere, but after frequent servicing missions, Hubble is now expected to function until at least 2014. After which, the more advanced James Webb Space Telescope will be launched as Hubble's replacement, and may introduce some exciting new discoveries and possibly deliver pictures even more astounding than the Hubble Ultra Deep Field images!
In 1995 the Hubble Telescope stared at a patch of space for ten days straight, collecting light over that duration, and producing one of the most remarkable images ever taken. These Hubble Ultra Deep Field images reveal thousands of galaxies in the distance, a true representation of how small we really are.
Here is a great video that puts the Deep Field images in perspective: