Does anyone remember when Hubble was launched? Remember how we all waited to see those brilliant images come down? As they started to beam down to earth we all looked at each other thinking “that’s good, right?” Those in the know immediately knew it wasn’t right. Hubble was near-sighted. The most expensive telescope ever built didn’t work.
Two years later a daring plan was set into motion to fix hubble. Essentially it would be given glasses and other hardware would be upgraded as well (solar panels, gyros, etc). Astronauts worked feverishly on Hubble until all the repairs were made. Would they work? Could NASA redeem itself?
The answer is a resounding “yes”. Not only redemption but triumph. As the new images came in, it was clear the mission was a success and our view on the Universe would never be the same again. Chances are that you’ve seen a photo taken by Hubble. To be more clear, if you’ve seen a picture of space in the last 15 years, it’s a good chance Hubble took it. Sure there are scopes that are larger and gather more light but Hubble has the advantage. It doesn’t put up with atmosphere. No rainy days, cloudy days and it’s always night time in space. Well to a degree it is.
NASA has serviced the Hubble a couple of times since that first servicing. Upgrades to equipment, new cameras, better cameras and more sensitive instruments to bolster it’s scientific contribution even more.
Later this year NASA will service the Hubble one final time. The telescope has been a workhorse for so many years and taken some of the most stunning images of the Cosmos known to man. I’d love to be there to see the shuttle go up. Might still happen but I won’t set my heart on it.