The Hubble Telescope Turns 25

Planetary Nebula NGC 2818, Hubble Space TelescopeThe Hubble Space Telescope is truly a wonder of engineering and vision. It’s captured the imagination of many of Americans, to the point that when it’s lens was faulty and the powers that be thought to get rid of it with something new, a hue and cry went up to save it. And it worked.

The Hubble was repaired in a first of its kind mission and has been capturing amazing pictures of astral phenomenon ever since.

Now the Hubble is turning 25 and thoughts are turning to what lies beyond our solar system. Will be finally be able to get the answer to our age-old question: “are we alone?”

The Hubble Space Telescope has moved astronomy forward and revolutionized public awareness of science. Twenty-five years after launch on 24 April 1990, the Hubble Telescope’s success highlights the need for boldness in the face of budget constraints, says Mario Livio in a Comment piece in this week’s Nature. The next goal should be a search for signs of life on planets beyond our Solar System, he argues.

Hubble Space Telescope imageLivio calls on space agencies to back a bold mission to look for biological signatures such as oxygen and chlorophyll in the atmospheres of exoplanets.

“We must think big and put scientific goals ahead of budgetary concerns”, he says.The targeting of around 50 such planets with a telescope mirror five times bigger than Hubble’s could tell us the probability of life existing elsewhere in the Milky Way, he notes.

To learn more about the Hubble and its potential for discovery, click here.

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