The Hubble Space Telescope is celebrating its 30th launch anniversary with the release of a breathtakingly colorful portrait of two star forming nebulae – collectively nicknamed the “Cosmic Reef” – located in a nearby galaxy orbiting the Milky Way. Despite a rocky start that kicked off with a potentially mission ending complication, the telescope is still going strong, and continues to reveal the wonders of the universe in stunning detail.
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched on April 24, 1990 aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. Unknown to the five-astronaut crew who deployed the bus-sized telescope, Hubble had been created with a potentially mission-ending flaw. It’s primary mirror had been partially shaped by an improperly calibrated tool, which created a spherical aberration in the surface. This caused the first images taken by the very new, and very expensive telescope to come out blurry.
Thankfully, the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavour were able to remedy the issue and upgrade a number of other systems during a grueling rescue mission. A total of five shuttle missions were launched to service, repair and upgrade the telescope at massive cost, but it has most definitely been worth it.
Hubble has peeled back the secrets of the universe, revealing a cosmos burning with creation and destruction on a massive scale. According to a release from the European Space Agency, the telescope has made a staggering 1.4 million observations, which have fueled the creation of 17,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers.
The newly released image is a perfect example of the dramatic scenes that Hubble has captured over the course of its 30-year journey exploring the universe.