Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope dramatically altered the way in which we view our universe. Launched from Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990, the instrument was initially hampered by a defectively shaped main mirror. During a 1993 repair mission, Shuttle astronauts installed COSTAR, a device that resolved the problem, and scientists were finally able to make full use of the telescope’s incredible capabilities.
Hubble images serve both scientific and cultural purposes. Technicians at the Space Telescope Science Institute, where the Hubble images are processed, employ both science and artistry to color and orient the data they receive from the telescope. The vibrant and stunning Hubble images released to the public often reflect what their makers want us to understand about an object, rather than how the object would actually appear to our eyes—not unlike the works of many 19th–century artists of the American West.
Possibly nearing the end of its lifespan, the Hubble Space Telescope may be the most famous scientific instrument in history, thanks to the deft use of its images to illustrate the telescope’s amazing power.
Gift of the Lockheed Missile and Space Corporation
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