Today marks 25 years since the Hubble Telescope was launched into space. Thanks to over one million images Hubble has collected, scientists now have a dramatically enhanced understanding of the universe.
Hubble’s observations have allowed scientists to confirm the existence of black holes and identify new galaxies and planets. It observed and captured images of Supernova 1987A, a massive explosion marking the death of a star. This is notable since the last time astronomers observed a supernova was in the 1600s. And in March, Hubble observed the splitting of a supernova into four images.
MIT alumni and faculty have been a part of much of Hubble’s history. Mike Massimino SM ’88, ENG ’90, ME ’90, PhD ’92, MIT AeroAstro Professor Jeff Hoffman, John Grunsfeld ’80, Mark C. Lee SM ’80 have all contributed to either Hubble’s launch or participated in the telescope’s five repair and servicing missions.
“It [Hubble] can travel at 17,500 miles an hour, but yet it can fix a gaze on part of the sky so accurately as if you were shooting a laser from the Empire State Building, you could hit a dime on the Washington Monument,” said Mike Massimino of Hubble’s observation abilities. Massimino was part of STS-109 and STS-125 missions to upgrade and repair the Hubble Telescope.
Watch our Happy Birthday Hubble video to learn more about how the Hubble Telescope operates, how it was conceived, and its contributions to scientific research.
The Happy Birthday Hubble video was produced by MITAA videographer Brielle Domings.