Feeds

Hubble sends back new pictures to mark 15 years in orbit

Happy Birthday Hubble

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The Hubble space telescope has been in orbit for 15 years, during which time it has taken over 750,000 images of the universe.

To celebrate, NASA has released two new pictures: one of a new area of the Eagle Nebula, a star forming region where hot dense gas is being shaped by ultraviolet light from a group of massive hot stars; the other of the Whirlpool Galaxy, with a smaller, companion galaxy on one of its arms.

A towering pillar of dust and gas rising from the Eagle nebula

The telescope didn't get off to the happiest of starts - when its first images were sent back to earth, NASA discovered that one of its mirrors was misshapen, so it was effectively myopic. However, since NASA scientists devised a fix for the problem, the telescope has made a huge scientific contribution. It has traced gamma ray bursts to their origins in distant galaxies, recorded the impact of a comet on Jupiter, proved the existence of super-massive black holes and pinned down the age of the universe.

Now, Hubble's future is under threat. Scheduled maintenance missions to Hubble were cancelled because of safety concerns raised by the Columbia Shuttle disaster, in which all astronauts on board were lost. This means Hubble will gradually break down. Engineers say it has enough power to keep going until 2008, but unless some kind of servicing mission can be mounted there will be no extra-atmospheric telescope until the 2011 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. ®

Related stories

Exoplanet 'more likely to be brown dwarf'
NASA gives thumbs up to new Shuttle missions
Astronomers spot first ever dark galaxy

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9000 beer tokens - and counting
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.